Darkness Rye BA - Double Vanilla
Surly Brewing Company

Darkness  Rye BA - Double VanillaDarkness  Rye BA - Double Vanilla
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Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #198
Ranked #4,373
4.25 | pDev: 11.06%
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Darkness  Rye BA - Double VanillaDarkness  Rye BA - Double Vanilla

Darkness already has inherent notes of baker’s chocolate and dark fruit–making it the perfect candidate for a double dose of aromatic vanilla. Double Vanilla Darkness features rich cacao flavor, sweet vanilla, and a honeyed character from aging in spirit barrels that were previous used to age rye whiskey.
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Reviews: 19 | Ratings: 45 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of dafla67
dafla67 from Pennsylvania

4.44/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark black. Aroma was a bit thin. Mostly Rye with a hint of vanilla. Taste is much more complex combination of dark chocolate, vanilla, charredness and the rye. Medium feel. Overall really great stout.

May 08, 2021
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tigg924 from Massachusetts

3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours opaque, jet black in color with minimal head. Taste is vanilla pods, Breyer's vanilla ice cream, char, molasses and roasted malt. Super thick and heavy body, sweet roasty, low carbonation. Really opens as it warms. Not crazy about the smell but this is good.

May 08, 2021
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kevanb from Illinois

4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz can, dated 11.13.2020, poured into a stemless wine glass.

The beer pours a deep jet black color, thick and viscous with a thin layer of tan head that recedes with a nice layer of film and spotted lacing. The aroma is pleasant, lots of rich dark chocolate, vanilla and marshmallow, burnt barrel, rye spirit offers a nice heat, hearty grain and stone fruits. The flavors offer more of the same, lots of bittersweet dark chocolate, brownie batter, vanilla, toasted marshmallow, charred oak, rye spirit and stone fruits. The mouthfeel is good, coating with a full heavy body, smooth with a warm finish.

Verdict: A nice barrel aged stout from Surly. A good take on Darkness, but perhaps lacking in vanilla for a beer that is "double vanilla." The balance is good, but a lot of roastiness and classic RIS hallmarks that make Darkness great appear to be missing in this one and it feels like a more straightforward American stout with vanilla. The rye barrel helps but isn't enough to overcome the lack of vanilla and classic Darkness base beer.

Apr 01, 2021
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Sparty1224 from Michigan

4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brief Review:

O: Finally completing the 2020 BA Darkness trilogy. Not liking this as much as the Vietnamese coffee, but it's definitely number 2. Really nice vanilla notes, rounded out with a touch of cocoa. Good, full body. Only knock is maybe it's the booziest and harshest of the 3. Would like to see it sit a few more months, maybe.

Recommendation: Easily one of the better variants of this season, make sure you grab this before Molé.

Mar 25, 2021
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hoptheology from South Dakota

4.03/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

16 oz can, complete with cardboard box, canned on 11/13/20, into Tallgrass globe snifter.
Purchased at Williquor's @ $13.99.

Super dark slick black with a beige head of 1/2 finger, fleeting to a ring. No lace.

Aroma is rye barrel forward, but thins out in aroma, being cut, more like a barrel aged porter would. Some cola, chickory, vanilla, and fudge cake at the deepest whiffs.

Flavor brings vanilla, sarsaparilla, rye, whiskey barrel, caramel, toffee, butterscotch pudding, dead grass, wood, more rye whiskey, and light cherry cough syrup in that order. Alcohol is massive on this, both in feel and flavor.

Feel is burning and dry, some stickiness but easily eclipsed by the dryness; numbs the tongue with its sheer alcohol, and is surprisingly thin. Hot finish, light stickiness. Does the parched for thirst thing well, like the actual Hell I'm told.

Overall, Surly does some decent beers. This one lands about in the middle for me. It's good but not something that makes me drop my jaw. I think the regular BA Darkness is better, but that's kind of hit and miss depending on the vintage, as well. Everyone was talking about Vietnamese Coffee but I figured I'd do this one instead just to be different. It wasn't a bad choice but probably wasn't the greatest one. To be honest I was expecting more vanilla cake from this, but the beer is mostly booze and rye grain. It's very harsh. I'm glad this is in cans at a lower price point but with Prairie and BCBS around, there's no need to revisit this beer.

Mar 24, 2021
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Damian from Massachusetts

4.16/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Drank from a 1 pint can purchased at Fenway Beer Shop, Boston, MA
2020 Variant
Canned on 11/13/20
Served in a tulip

Really impressive packaging. As for the beer, it poured a deep, dark brown hue and fairly thin for the style. A small, frothy, khaki colored crown topped the liquid, but it quickly dropped to a fine collar. A few streaks of lacing stuck along the glass.

The nose was a bit disappointing initially but improved with time. Rye (or bourbon) barrel notes were quite prominent. Somewhat boozy. Vanilla was also detectable. As the beer warmed, the vanilla really intensified. High quality vanilla extract came to mind. Moderate amount of brown sugar sweetness. The rye barrel notes also seemed to become more pronounced, as did the booziness. Hint of cocoa powder.

The flavor profile mirrored the nose. Malty and robust up front. Big brown sugar presence. The spicy rye barrel notes became quite apparent as the beer moved along the palate. Good dose of vanilla as well. More rye barrel and booze on the back end and the finish. Unfortunately, the cocoa was completely absent.

As I anticipated by the appearance, the mouthfeel was quite thin for the style. A finer bubbled, moderate effervescence gave the liquid a nice creamy, frothiness on the palate. By the drink’s end, the sugars in the beer left a slightly sticky film on my lips.

Double Vanilla Darkness is an enjoyable beer, though it is of little resemblance to the super high gravity, adjunct rich pastry stouts popular today. I would actually compare it more to an imperial brown or a strong ale than a stout of any type. As long as you go into this beer knowing what to expect, you will likely have a better initial reaction to it than I did.

Mar 06, 2021
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SpeedwayJim from New York

4.36/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A big thanks to Jeff for this one. Outrageous packaging. 16oz. black can packaged in a box into a Brooklyn Brewery snifter. Shared with schen9303.

Nose is loads of vanilla, oatmeal, sweet soy sauce, molasses, tobacco, chocolate, fudge, and booze. Rich, dense, and creamy. Super aromatic. Beer opens sweet soy sauce, salted caramel, vanilla beans, fudge, molasses, and chocolate. The booze seeps in towards the middle. I still get hints of oatmeal mixed with biscuit, more chocolate, and cocoa powder. End is vanilla, lactose, and more fudge. Molasses, syrup, and chocolate at the finish. Body is medium with moderate to low carbonation. Smooth with some bubbles on the palate and hot going down. Lingering, sticky finish. This one's actually a bit thin.

The flavor and nose is there but this one's actually a bit thin... which is its downfall.

Mar 02, 2021
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mschrei from Illinois

4.79/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

First of the flavored variants of one of my favorites, and while it doesn’t live up to the original, it sure is good. Dark, big quick dissipating foam. Smell is roasty dark malt with strong vanilla scents, mild cocoa notes. Taste is the best part of the beer: bittersweet chocolate actually takes the forefront, battling it out with sweet vanilla notes over the big dark roasty malt I’ve come to expect from Darkness. Rich, thick, oily. I think it’s better than the rating here.

Feb 27, 2021
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vette2006c5r from Minnesota

4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Double Vanilla Darkness pours black, with a small, but long lasting, lacing tan head. Aroma is filled with real vanilla flavors. Flavor has some hints of oak, lots of vanilla bean, some cacao, sweet and toasty. Good body and feel. Overall packed with flavor, sweet, nice natural flavors, comes together great.

Feb 24, 2021
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5toutman75 from Illinois

4.46/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Canned 11/13/21

Consumed 2/11/21

Super excited to try my first BA Darkness variant and vanilla is always one of my favorite adjuncts. Looks a little thin compared to my favorite stouts but not terrible. On the nose I get more bourbon/rye than vanilla. It smells amazing though. The taste follows the nose, the vanilla is more subtle than a BCS vanilla bomb. The rye adds a bit of spiciness that I love. It feels a bit thicker on the pallet than it looks as well. This is world class for me. More vanilla than a vanilla Black Note or Revolution Deth but less than a BCS. It’s sweeter than regular for sure but NOT a pastry stout which is a good thing for me. Great balance and a great beer.

Feb 12, 2021
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Best_Enjoyed_In_Texas from Texas

4.46/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Many of the reviews regarding this beer are written by pastry-boi's who are out of touch with how quality beer should taste and feel.

This is a true barrel-aged stout with genuine vanilla taste and nose.

It is sweet in the same way Prairie Bomb! or Founder's CBS are, but not overly sweet and packed with sugar and artificial flavorings.

Dark tan head that subsides into a consistent thin, dark-tan ring around the rim of glass. Smell is all vanilla.

Would I buy this again? Perhaps. I prefer west-coast IPAs & sours over any type of stout - most of the time. However, if I were in the mood for a stout, this would be a very solid option.

Jan 07, 2021
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

16oz can. Stamped on can bottom is 'CANNED ON 11/13/20'.
Black colored with a garnet back lit sparkle. One finger tan head upon pouring and this settles into a tiny bubble thick cap. By turning the glass, strings of lacing are left behind, as well as scattered spots.
Aroma is there from the opening of the can. Dark roasted malts, spicy barrel notes, dark fruit, cacao, and a high sweet layer of vanilla.
Taste is dark roasted malts, juiced with whiskey barrel soaked dark fruits. The cacao comes out as the beer is swirled in the mouth, leaving the mouth coated in dark, dark chocolate. The beer is definitely sweet, super sweet, but only through the mid part of the taste profile as the beer is swallowed. Vanilla adds to this sweetness. The aftertaste is where the essence of vanilla coats the dark roasted malts, and leaves the flavor of sweetened barley and oats.
Medium mouth feel but coating. Minimal alcohol burn as the beer enters the throat. Okay carbonation.
The vanilla provides a sweeter variant of Darkness, but does not overwhelm the base barrel aged beer, especially in the aftertaste.

Jan 06, 2021
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Victory_Sabre1973 from Minnesota

4.07/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours pitch black. Looks very thick while pouring. 1 finger dark tan head. Head retention is poor. There's no lacing on the glass.
The nose has lots of dark fruit notes on it. Some Caramel. Some chocolate. Not really getting the vanilla. Just a faint hint of it.
Taste - The vanilla does kick in here in the flavor, though a lot less than expected. I get lots of dark fruit notes. I get some chocolate, vanilla, caramel, toffee, and a bit of coffee here.
This is fairly thick, as expected. This beer is smooth. There is a bit of an alcohol burn, though not much of one.
I would have expected a bit more vanilla here, based on the name. It seems like a bit of an amped up Darkness. It is a good beer, and I do recommend it if you can get it.

Jan 03, 2021
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

2.92/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Canned 11/13/20; drank 12/29/20 @ the Yarchives.

Black appearance.

A rough pour yielded a nice tan head; a strong curtain of lace.

Dry oak & dry rye notes dominate the nose, with hints of cream & bourbon.

Medium mouthfeel.

Dry oak & mild vanilla flavors up front; bourbon & dry rye notes on the finish.

Boozy, harsh & thin; pastry boys beware, this is like a poorly made American barleywine. Not sure what went wrong here.

Dec 30, 2020
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maximum12 from Minnesota

4.15/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Barrel Aged Darkness variants in 16 oz. cans…beautiful. If only they came in reasonably priced four packs. Ah, dare to dream.

The pour is…well, check out the name of the beer. The nose is my beloved rye & plenty of vanilla. There’s never enough vanilla in a beer. Maybe here. Let’s hope.

Darkness – Double Vanilla Rye Barrel Aged is a weird taming & amping of the The Darkness. The rye is sublime, making my feels like spice & shit. Vanilla shows as vanilla, sweetness, intermingled with the base Darkness. Oak, & now it’s gone. Darn.

This is a fine beer. At a lower price point, I’d load up the fridge with this stuff & enjoy it for months. Excellent.

Dec 27, 2020
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mothman from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Can. Tan head. Black color.

Lots of vanilla and rye spice. Oaky, fudge, chocolate. Warming whiskey notes. Has a touch thinner body than I’d like. I prefer the coffee variant to this.

Dec 23, 2020
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bbtkd from South Dakota

4.59/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Surly BA Double Vanilla Darkness Russian Imperial Stout, 12% ABV. Pours thick and black with a slight brown head that is leaving some lacing as I drink it. Nose is vanilla, chocolate, and rye. Taste follows, slightly sweet, slightly bitter, with a pleasant rye burn. Excellent thick and smooth mouthfeel, overall world-class. This stands up nicely against BCBS Vanilla and BCBS Rye.

Dec 20, 2020
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gatornation from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a pitch black color with a small tan head. Smell is vanilla rye and spice. Taste has a nice rye whiskey addition to the base Darkness along with cocoa and vanilla play in with vanilla on point. Mouth feel is full with rye barrel nice and mellow . Vanilla is present Its on the sweeter side it is strong And never interferes with the stout but is a compliment along with the cocoa.

Dec 14, 2020
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Powderhornphil from Minnesota

4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black and viscous.

Aromas of vanilla bean, bourbon. The vanilla is quite predominant.

Taste is vanilla bean, bitter hops, chocolate and bourbon.

Reminds me a lot of 13 without the maple, but I would probably give the edge to 13.

Dec 12, 2020
Darkness Rye BA - Double Vanilla from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 45 ratings