Darkness | Surly Brewing Company

DarknessDarkness
BA SCORE
4.49/5
3,845 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:
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.

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
Ranking:
#122
Reviews:
881
Ratings:
3,845
pDev:
8.91%
Bros Score:
4.5
 
 
Wants:
3,311
Gots:
1,529
Trade:
139
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,845 |  Reviews: 881
Photo of MinorThreat
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of stephensinner
4.42/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of spointon
4.45/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I had this one on tap at the 2008 Illinois release party at the Bavarian Lodge in Lisle.

A= This stout poured a very dark brown/black color with a beautiful 3/4" creamy brown head. Retention was good, and the head eventually left some spotty lacing on the glass.

S= Naturally this was served a bit too cold, so it took a while for the aromas to open up. Eventually I found a complex yet somewhat subdued profile of chocolate, dark ripe fruits, some roasted malts, sherry, and a surprisingly large hop presence.

T= From front to back, this was one complex and satisfying beer. The huge sweet malt base started this one off in a good way with a heady blend of flavors such as dark fruits (cherries, raisins), treacle, brown sugar, and molasses. The middle was completely dominated by a surprising hop bitterness that seemed out of character in this beer, yet worked well with the other flavors. Following on the heels of the hops was a bitter one-two punch of dark chocolate and roasted coffee notes. The finish dried a bit and left a pleasant alcohol spiciness on my tongue and warmth in my belly. Each sip begged the next to follow.

MF= This is a big full-bodied brew. Mouth feel was viscous without being syrupy. Carbonation was adequate to carry the heavy load, yet soft and creamy on the tongue.

D= Though I cannot say that this has toppled my favorite beers in this style, it was a real joy to drink. I found this beer to be all about the matchup of complexity vs. subtlety. It was sweet without being cloying, bitter without being too dry, high alcohol but not too hot or astringent. A great beer and one I will gladly drink again!

 1,647 characters

Photo of Paccamacca
4.48/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of frasergrove
4.51/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2013 rendition. Was a little suspect when it was pouring out...but this beer is as dark as they come. Held up to the light, and there is nary a hint of amber or pale. Nose is sweet toffee, rich medium roast coffee, cacao, smooth. Damn...this beer is a mouthful. Thick, chewy, lingers for a while. Smooth...so smooth. Light roasted undertones, toffee, maple syrup...ripe figs. This beer does not disappoint. Amazing.

 415 characters

Photo of Mikeluzzjr
3.65/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of dataylor21
4.75/5  rDev +5.8%

Photo of CrellMoset
4.16/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Darkness, bottle courtesy of a ratebeer trade, and split at my 1-year Anniversary Tasting with a few friends. My portion poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Pours a thick, pitch-black, dark beer, oily, heavy, glug glug glug into the glass. The head is light cocoa, tan, with great retention - it's swiss cheese like, bubbly, sticky, foamy in places, meringue-like in others. The lacing is three-dimensional in places, sticky, strewn all over the sides of the tulip. Just a great looking beer.

Aroma: Huge, pungent cocoa and soy, with plenty of hops, too - citrusy, lightly grassy, which would be overpowering in any brew other than this one. Hints of coconut, too. There are lots of sweet, nondescript malty notes, though plenty of solid roasted, toasted notes as well. This beer's least enjoyable aspect - it's not doing a lot for me.

Taste: Oh wow. What a fantastic taste. Tons of residual sweetness with every roasted and toasted malty note imaginable - butterscotch, caramel, toffee on the light end, coffee, cocoa, toast, molasses, deep brown sugar on the darker end - and only a kiss of soy sauce. A few dark fruits notes, raisin being most prominent, round out the malty sweetness. Anise is prominent as well and melds well with a somehow prominent amount of hop bitterness and citrusy, leafy hop notes, orange-zest like in places, slightly minty in others. It's very complex and well-rounded, and only loses the half-point due to the overwhelming amount of residual sugars - it's just slightly too sweet.

Mouthfeel: Thick and somewhat even, though there is a fair amount of unevenness here. What is here is creamy and milky, however, a good fit for the tasting notes here. It leaves a bit of a syrupy, sticky feel in the mouth too. However, this one improves drastically as it warms, evenening out as the carbonation dies. Creamy and mellow.

Drinkability: This is a good beer ... it's just not quite as good as I thought it would be, and though I try not to take off points for expectations, I may have in a few spots here. There's plenty of good here - it's big, it's bold, it's complex, it's pleasantly well-hopped, and the alcohol's well-hidden. On the other hand, the alcohol's pretty high, the aroma is a little lackluster, and it's pretty crazy sweet. The verdict: it's a winner. Is it worth $16? Probably. Would I try it again? Yes. If you get the chance to trade for it, should you? Definitely.

 2,412 characters

Photo of randylangford
4.79/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of inlimbo77
4.42/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml, 2012 vintage
The Bruery tulip

A: Pours pitch black. Finger light tan head. Big lacing. Some ABV feet.

S: Smells of sweet soy sauce. Dark dark chocolate. Cocoa puffs. Some alcohol.

T: Dark chocolate bitterness up front. Some of that cocoa puffs. Dark roast coffee. Some of that blueberry sweetness. Some alcohol burn. It's a really nice brew.

M: Full bodied. Not crazy vicous.

 386 characters

Photo of thereal_adam
4.06/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of woodchip
4.6/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of polopaul20
5/5  rDev +11.4%

Photo of VonZipper
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Kramerwtmf
4/5  rDev -10.9%

Photo of Poupae
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of larryarms847
4.3/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a rich a viscous tar black with a thin layer of light brown foam, minimal carbonation.

Sweet Bakers chocolate, dark chocolate, roasty, and surprisingly big fruity notes.

Fudge, sweet and bitter chocolates, vanilla, roasted malt, but a little heavy on the fruit.

Medium-heavy bodied, low carbonation, unfortunately thin.

Overall, while in appearance this pours thick and rich, it leans heavy on fruitiness rather than the roasty goodness I usually look for in a stout. Additionally, the mouthfeel is where this totally falls off, thinness does not match the appearance profile. Okay, but not world-class.

 613 characters

Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.85/5  rDev +8%
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.

 1,497 characters

Photo of jacewg
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of SoCalBeerIdiot
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of crossovert
3.67/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 2.5

2008 Vintage. 750ml black and gold waxed and capped brown bottle. 55 degrees. Not my 1000th review but my 1000th beer tried!

It pours a thick black with a voluptuous tan head. The head is sandier and not as dark as most Russian Imperial Stouts. It holds like a marvel for a 2 year aged brew of this strength. It refuses to recede but as it does it coats my snifter with thick lacing.

The smell is absolutely wonderful. I was at a brewery today smelling the fest wort, and this one has a lot of that fresh wort smell, that honey-oatmeal like malt sugar smell. Also in there is chocolate, coffee, slight roastiness, rum, and that classic stout smell with a bit of fruitiness. There are raisins and dark cherries in it as well as some caramel and a slight nuttiness. The sweetness can be smelled though there is also a cutting bitterness and sharpness sin the smell. The alcohol is present merely as an addition to the complexity of this brew.

This one is pretty intense in the mouth, a sweeter, fruitier RIS. It smacks you initially with some caramel covered cherries and raisins, then another wave of vinous raisin/grape, and finally a bitter coffee/chocolate finish. The alcohol flashes itself, though not completely, it is a palate exhauster form start to finish.

Though a bit cloying, the mouthfeel is pretty epic for the style, it is smooth and thick with a present but not overbearing alcoholic burn. This is the "liqueur" beer as it holds a bit more sweetness and complexity tan your average Russian imperial stout.

Overall if they were to tone down the sweetness on this one it would reach epic levels of enjoyability, the nose is right on.

 1,651 characters

Photo of NonicPanic
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of facesnorth
4.25/5  rDev -5.3%

Photo of Mdog
4.38/5  rDev -2.4%
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 wtkphoto
4.5/5  rDev +0.2%

Darkness from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 4.49 out of 5 with 3,845 ratings
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