Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

BA SCORE
98
world-class
3,808 Ratings
DarknessDarkness
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
surlybrewing.com

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.30%

Availability: Fall

Notes / Commercial Description:
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
Ratings:
3,808
Reviews:
877
Avg:
4.42
pDev:
9.28%
 
 
Wants:
3,310
Gots:
1,514
For Trade:
137
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,808 |  Reviews: 877
Photo of Norseman
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of Docrock
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of polopaul20
5/5  rDev +13.1%

Photo of Blazer22
4.29/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of deltatauhobbit
2.44/5  rDev -44.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to mynie for the opportunity to try the infamous Darkness, 2008 750ml bottle, decided to have this one fresh as opposed to letting it age for a bit since I heard it's rather hoppy for a RIS.

Pours a dark brown/black color, some light being able to show ruby colors near the edge, very large tan head that fades slowly to leave some good lacing.

Smell is as anticipated, surprisingly (for a RIS once again) hoppy at first, some malt and smoke in the background, not quite to style but not unpleasant.

Taste takes the normal route and ditches the hoppiness that might have been expected after the aroma, instead it is cloyingly sweet, lots of chocolate and vanilla, also seems like there's other sugars that are added to make it much sweeter than it should be, very syrupy and sticky but not overly viscous.

An interesting take on the RIS, but I think I'd stick with Kate and Dark Lord for the top picks, I'd even reach for an Old Rasputin first. Glad I got to try it, but it doesn't even come close to the hype it has, maybe if it didn't taste like someone added a few cups of sugar to it it wouldn't have been as much of a chore to drink even a glass of it. Maybe a different vintage will change my mind down the road.

Edit (3/6/10): Remove Kate from top pick, 2010 was just as much of a cloyingly syrupy sweet mess.

 1,328 characters

Photo of HumanParaquat
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of Ryan011235
4.11/5  rDev -7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter and an E&J Cask & Cream glass on 10/17/11

2010 Vintage

Much appreciation to PDXHops for the chance to try this critter

Scorched brown whilst being poured; not quite crimson brown. Pitch black in the glass. Massive two and a half finger head of layered shades of brown foam; it's like sedimentary layers, or something. The head eventually drops to a big patch of tightly grouped bubbles. I was planning on using my trusty E&J for the appearance score, since it usually holds better lace than the snifter. It isn't necessary here; there is a copious amount of lace for the style, starting where the head crested and crackling its way down.

Honestly, I don't think Darkness could look any better.

The aroma is gargantuan. Simply all-encompassing and intense. Layers of dark, burnt sugars and malts are blanketed by vinous and dark fruit notes. Tangy, roasted notions meander about, as well. Aromatic tones of port, prune, molasses, burnt chocolate and cocoa. This certainly smells on the sweet order of the RIS style. As it starts to warm, burnt chocolate emerges as the predominant factor in terms of sweetness. Subtle hints of toffee and, to a lesser extent, caramel.

One sip in and I'm ready to draw the conclusion that Darkness succeeds because it is bold and sweet, but remains free of the disgustingly sugar-addled sweetness to which some imperial stouts fall victim.

Burnt and roasted chocolate flavors wash over the tongue and, before they can subside, are joined by a rather sturdy hoppiness. The hops seem earthy and add a modest kick and subtle bitterness; really rounds out the flavors without going overboard. In all actuality, the hops provide a welcomed dry counterpoint to the otherwise sweet flavor profile. I mean, when you're cranking a bunch of burnt sugars a la chocolate and molasses, and a large spot of prune and dark fruits, what's wrong with some balance, huh? Heck, there even seems to be a dusting of cocoa and the most faintest notion of coffee beans on the finish.

The feel finds as much attention given it as does the flavor profile. For sure, this is full bodied and reasonably viscous but it stands aback of the sludgy and plodding. The feel is smooth, though simultaneously accented by modest, puffy carbonation that further tames over time. The finish boasts hefty residuals that linger long.

Ultimately, Darkness is pushing my threshold for sweetness in Imperial Stouts. That said, this is how you do sweet without it becoming a problem. My personal preferences for dry, roasty and ashy stouts aside, this is a well-constructed and really good.

And another thing. It sure is nice to see a proper vampire on the label. Old dude is a fairly menacing looking sort. Now, he's no Nosferatu; that's one supremely creepy vampire. But an angry, red countenance and vapid, white eyes? Yeah, that's a proper vampire. None of that team glitter and team other guy bullshit.

 2,927 characters

Photo of xdtfx
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.25/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Release night at the Bavarian Lodge. 11oz pour arrives a deep jet black with an inch of creamy head and some spotty lacing on the glass. Aromas start with deeply roasted dark malts colliding with chocolate cream. Mellow coffee moves into some dark fruits and hops.

First sip brings a big roasty dark maltiness upfront with notes of sweet milk chocolate, roasted coffee and some dark fruit edges. There's a smooth creaminess here as it flows down. The hops kick in on the finish and become quite noticeable with a good bitterness. The malts win in the end though, leaving a sweet aftertaste and a slight stickiness on the palate.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a mellow carbonation. Not nearly as thick as many imperial stout's at this ABV, but that makes it somewhat more drinkable as well. While this isn't my favorite RIS, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and the fact that it's quite hoppy as well. Glad I got a chance to sample this on tap.

 945 characters

Photo of CraftFan5
5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of cd34
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of Chris-1911
4.29/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of vrbulldog22
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of YvesB
4.99/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Photo of alleykatking
4.77/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz bottle. Many thanks go out to Luke (Lukafer) who cracked this one open at the last tasting. Good luck in Indy Luke!

A- Pours a heavy motor oil black color. One finger light brown head that shows a little bit retention before dying down. Light lacing on the sides of the glass as I drink this gem down.

S- Interesting enough this beer has a nice hop profile in the front end. Piney and citrus both which shine. Darker toasted malts with this as well brings forth a light burnt aroma. Nice bittersweet chocolate aroma with a hint of coffee in the ending. The hops still though throw me off but not in a bad way. Interesting and make my mouth water when I sniff the glass.

T- First thing I notice off the bat is hops and more hops...both piney and citrusy. Nice roasted malts in the front after the hops. Almost a perfect roasted burnt taste. Bittersweet chocolate notes with a fudge like charater to it. Bready flavors with a coffee taste that lingers around. The alcohol in this is settle and sometimes hard to miss. Overall, great flavors!

M- Heavy mouthfeel. Carbonation is great for the beer and style. Hops and light burnt malts are left on the palate with some coffee notes and light chocolate in the aftertaste. Flavors are bright and clean. Beer blended very well but flavors pop out individually. Not very drying on the palate at all.

D- This beer is worth all the praise. I would love to make it out to Darkness Day this year. I am glad I have a extra bottle in the cellar and got to try this one out. This beer is going to become one of my favorite.

 1,582 characters

Photo of Celtics76
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of smutty33
3.69/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

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

Appearance: Dark black, initially a good head but fades out, good lacing as I drank out of the official Darkness snifter.

Smell: All I could really smell was the hops in this beer. Might be my cold acting up or because this was on tap so I couldn't stick my nose in it while I poured it.

Taste: Made a good impression on me. A nice hop blast followed by bitter chocolate and a little bit of smoky flavor. Not harshly bitter to my tastes. No alcohol to be detected by my senses.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth.

Drinkability: For an imperial this goes down extremely easy. If I wasn't trying multiple beers at the Gnome, I would have had another.

Finally I have tasted the Darkness from Surly. It is an excellent beer even though I don't typically seek out imperial stouts. The only thing to make this better was if it was canned for home consumption. I'm not sleeping in the parking lot for a growler!

 897 characters

Photo of Shawner
4.75/5  rDev +7.5%

Photo of GJ40
4.27/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Sampled a 22oz bottle from 2012.

A - Deep black with a sturdy head. Clings nicely to the glass. The inside of the cap was oddly bubbled and spotted. Not sure why.

S - Dark chocolate, molasses and brown sugar. Inviting.

T - Moderately sweet with a dark chocolate lead followed closely by brown sugar and raisins. No significant bitterness or roastiness. Smooth and balanced.

M - Creamy and smooth with a low, well behaved carbonation.

O - A little sweet for me but tasty and worth a try.

 491 characters

Photo of bum732
4/5  rDev -9.5%

Photo of Wayne17
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of ironchefmiyagi13
4.62/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had the 2012 and 2013 next to each other.

2013 stole the show, hands down. The grade is reflective of that one.

Great color and head on both beers.

Aroma on the 2013 was much more powerful in terms of coffee, chocolate and hops. 2012 was sweeter smelling with a lot of dark fruit.

Flavor was much of the same differentiating factors. 2013 was balanced, hoppy, smooth and delicious. 2012 had a weird metallic 'twang' to it with every sip, and was just way too fruity and sweet with no hops or coffee/chocolate to add a little bitterness.

Overall, I was very disappointed with the results. While I am now glad I traded away my older bottles, I was expecting something a little more 'badass' in terms of a vintage showdown. Oh well, maybe my bottle just didn't age properly. Either way, the fresh bottle was outstanding and on par with my favorite RIS...Stone RIS.

 869 characters

Photo of Rekrule
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%

Photo of nlmartin
4.5/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer has been easily in my top 5 wants for a couple of years. I was finally able to land not one but 2 bottles from a great trader. This bottle is the 2010 version. The beer was served cold and will be allowed to warm up. First impressions really came up short but I reminded myself the beer is far too cold. So here is hoping my patience is rewarded. In the end my patience was rewarded. The beer has a lot of hype to live up too. My verdict this beer easily stands up to at least 85% of the hype.

Appearance: I am a sucker for beer that pours a straight black. An occasional ruby highlight manages to penetrate but not for long. The head of the beer s a dark burnt tan coloration. The head resolved into a thin ring of burnt tan foam. Lacing rings my glass as the beer is consumed.

Smell: After waiting for 20 minutes for the beer to warm up the beer started to shine. Darkly roasted and lightly charred aromas start to rise out of the glass. Dark fruits figs, prunes and dates combine with a flash of citrus, citrus zest, tiny amounts of smoke and yes even a suggestion of candied pine cones. Well played!

Taste: The flavor has dark roasted and a bit burnt on the malt. A bit of powdery cocoa lots and lots of dark fruits stewed together definitely figs and date. The citrus cuts across the flavor pleasingly. Brown sugar and molasses wrap around a brief pine cone flavor. The char of the malt keeps the malty nature of this beer in check.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability: The body of the beer is full. In spite of the full body the beer wears a wonder bra. The mouth feel is no where near as thick as I was hoping for. Made me wonder where all the curves went. Light carbonation breaks the body up a bit. Dam near a perfect beer! I love the roasted and fruit notes. Alcohol is present in all layers of the beers experience but for me only tends to accentuate the beers strong points.

 1,891 characters

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
4.42 out of 5 based on 3,808 ratings.
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