Darkness - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Surly Brewing Company

Darkness - Bourbon Barrel-AgedDarkness - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
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Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #20
Ranked #322
4.46 | pDev: 8.74%
Apr 30, 2023
Dec 23, 2009
Darkness - Bourbon Barrel-AgedDarkness - Bourbon Barrel-Aged
Notes: Darkness is a beer of fable and legend. Malty and intense, yet velvety smooth. This special edition of our massive Russian imperial stout matured in Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon barrels and brings waves of chocolate, vanilla, dried fruit, and cherry flavors, enhanced by the oaky spice the barrel and its previous occupant.
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Rated: 4.75 by bigred89 from Maryland

Apr 30, 2023
Rated: 4.44 by Mikexw from New York

Mar 22, 2023
Photo of philbe311
Reviewed by philbe311 from Pennsylvania

4.67/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
A fingers worth of lush whipped dark khaki colored froth... Decent retention gives way to a lopsided lacing... Color is a deep dark mahogany that allows the slightest bit of light to leak in around the edges... Stellar nose - Bourbon, brown sugar, molasses, roasted malt, coffee, chocolate and some dark fruits... Tons of depth and complexity... Each whiff reveals a slightly new nuance... The palate is equally complex and exhilarating... Chocolate, caramel, dark fruits, and molasses with hints of roasted malt and bourbon barrels... Full bodied, sleek and moderately carbonated... Velvety smooth with each sip... There aren't enough superlatives for this beer... Stellar all the way around...
Mar 18, 2023
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Reviewed by micada from New York

4.53/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
2022 version. Simply, it’s a beast. It’s a thick pour. It’s black as darkness. The aroma is a barrel full of dark molasses. The taste is evil, with a stone fruit purée like duck’s blood soup. The mouthfeel is appropriate for that scrapper’s soup. Alcohol has no burn, but brings warmth on the cold back porch this cold March night. $19/16 oz is steep, but what isn’t any more? Definitely a no fucking around drink.
Mar 04, 2023
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Reviewed by Tucquan from Pennsylvania

4.53/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Had this on 2023-01-20 from a 2022 16oz can.

A - Black with a dark brown head and great lace

S - Roasty and rich. Chocolate, orange, berry and vanilla

T - Not as roasty as expected. The bourbon barrel aging has imparted additional sweetness and flavors that to me adds a malted milkshake essence with the vanilla, orange and berry flavors.

M - Smooth as silk. Full body and light carbonation.

O - Had this side-by-side with regular Darkness, which has more of the traditional roasted imperial stout characteristics. Both are excellent. I liked this barrel-aged better but my son-in-law preferred regular Darkness.
Jan 21, 2023
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Reviewed by Strix from Wisconsin

4.57/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Near black, tan head, minimal lacing

Malty with vanilla and bourbon

Super yummy with roasted malt, vanilla, bourbon, bit of dark chocolate. Just what I like in the style.

Mouthfeel smooth

Can't go wrong here, world class.
Jan 05, 2023
Rated: 4.4 by TLA from Pennsylvania

Jan 01, 2023
Rated: 4.25 by dexterk1 from Illinois

Dec 02, 2022
Rated: 4.18 by socon67 from New York

Nov 10, 2022
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Reviewed by drdiesel9483 from Ohio

4.54/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
Look - black and thick with a fantastic tan head rimming and lacing
Smell - roasted malt barrel and booze
Taste - roasted malt barrel wood chocolate a lil coffee
Feel - thick creamy light carb
Overall - fantastic
Nov 06, 2022
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Reviewed by 40ontarget from Colorado

4.24/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Very inky dark with 1/16 inch of tan head. The nose is vanilla, a small bit of wood seeps out. There is an odd bit of chocolate orange in there. The taste is bourbon, hot tasty bourbon and something like a turtle candy with chocolate, caramel, and a hint of pecan. The finish is woody dryness. This is full bodied with some syrupy thickness. Everything is there...maybe a little light on the nose. Really nice BA Stout.
Nov 03, 2022
Rated: 4.29 by dms1767 from Nebraska

Oct 19, 2022
Rated: 4.75 by TylerJ from Iowa

Oct 03, 2022
Rated: 4.5 by Gkruszewski from New York

Sep 09, 2022
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Reviewed by feloniousmonk from Minnesota

4.56/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
Notes from 2016:
Solid blackness, strictly Stygian, with a slim roasted, toasted ring of foam on top.

Nose is all types of richness, the thick of the bourbon, the massive malt, the charcoal and vanilla and marshmallow, the depths of the oak and caramel, the toffee and espresso and cocoa. Gigantic this one. A gargantua, an impressive mixture of all the blessings from the beer and the barrel. anise and molasses and whiskey and more.

In the mouth: Thickness. Richness. Depth. Deepitude. Coats the palate, pours over the senses, takes on every inch and spreads it's complexity for the tongue and the tastebuds to experience. Smooth, mellow, while deep, complex, rich and utterly satisfying. And something swells, something grows and builds within you while you imbibe this. This is absolute perfection. Everything comes together perfectly. Nothing is bigger than the other, nothing is greater than anything else.

Am I just reading things into this, because of other things on my mind, two days after the distress of the election? Am I looking at the drooling vampire bat on the label of this bottle and seeing the looming disaster of our impending apocalypse? Is the bottle scaring me because the threat of four years of President Trump looms in the forefront of my mind?

Back to the beer, though: It is so good. Well-balanced, well-attenuated, great bourbon-y treated goodness. So good that it keeps every bad thing from the door. It strengthens and fortifies. It builds you up, and builds you up, and now you're solid. Solid as a rock. That's what this love is, that's what we've got, got, got, got got.

And it's damned delicious. Whoa. Got me quoting Ashford & Simpson instead of some Satanic death/gloom metal. Something's wrong with me, clearly.

I didn't want to drink this whole bottle by myself. But, I'm glad I did.

It's so good, so perfect, and so well, you know, put-together. This is my simple solace, in face of tougher times ahead. Wish I had another dozen bottles put away, but alas. I could only wait so long on this one, and the wait was worth it.
Aug 15, 2022
Rated: 4.5 by BrewSTL from Missouri

Aug 04, 2022
Rated: 4.45 by Dope from Massachusetts

Jul 28, 2022
Rated: 4.5 by bpfrush from Wisconsin

Jul 27, 2022
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Reviewed by Bhubbard34 from Pennsylvania

4.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
2022 version - poured from a 16oz can

Pours a dark brown with moderate head. Huge aromas of chocolate and bourbon barrel. Like most stouts, enjoyed it more as it warmed. Tastes of malty chocolate STRONG barrel presence, and hints of vanilla and dried fruit. Body a bit thin. At 12%, hints of alcohol are definitely there but not overpowering in the least.

Overall a very nice Russian imperial, just wish the body was thicker.
Jun 22, 2022
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Rated by NCSapiens from Indiana

4/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
Oak bourbon barrel variant is a devolution of the base beer.
Jun 16, 2022
Photo of Resistance88
Reviewed by Resistance88 from California

4.51/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
2021 Vintage courtesy of @BigIronH

Been wantin this fucker for a while and will want more cuz Barrel Aged 16oz can format is stupid ass hell.

Pours a dark espresso brown and settles pitch black with light brown head about 1/2 inch after aggressive pour that disappears shortly after .
Darkness smells like a bourbon barrel bomb with dark roast coffee, 90% dark chocolate, burnt brown sugar .
Tastes like a great damned Russian Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels. Intense, but enjoyable and wanted, flavors of bourbon barrel followed with tobacco, plum, cocoa and roasted dark grains swim all over in perfect harmony. I'm drinking this whole ass bottle.
This is the vintage you want. Cans are stupid for barrel aged beer.
Jun 06, 2022
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Reviewed by MacMalt from New Jersey

4.56/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
2021 release. Poured into a pint glass at 56°. It pours almost ink black with a foamy, light mocha-colored head and thick lacing. The fragrant smell features chocolate, caramel, molasses, raisin, cherry, oak, leather, and bourbon. Wow, the taste is sensational! It opens with rich, dark chocolate, caramel, and molasses, along with dark fruit notes of raisin, fig, and black cherry. Beneath is a base of earthy, oaky char. The bourbon presence is strong but not overpowering. The flavors blend very well. This stout has a silk mouth feel but it's not quite as thick and creamy as I'd hoped. The carbonation level is appropriately low and you can feel the heat of the 12% ABV. Overall, this variant of Darkness has as good a flavor as any BBA Russian Imperial Stout I've had the pleasure to drink. If the mouth feel was more viscous, then it would be off the chart. Nonetheless, it merits its World-Class rating.
May 29, 2022
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Reviewed by Harrison8 from Missouri

4.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Pours black with two and a half fingers of khaki foam. Head retains really well. Aroma is dark fruits, chocolate, and molasses over the top of roasty and toasty malts. Bourbon sits behind, with a mild rise of heat. Leather and oak develops as the beer warms. Flavor profile is roasty and toasty malts intermixed with fudge, chocolate, dark fruits, and toffee. As it warms, leather develops on the back half of the flavor profile. Bourbon comes on at the back half, adding a little swell of heat. Bitterness is mild, despite having biting roasty malts and hearty bourbon. Mouth feel is thick with a rindy, silty texture that helps emphasize the weight of the beer. Overall, a big and bold imperial stout that's accentuated by bourbon and barrel. Despite that bourbon extension, this ale is approachable, offering a sort-of middle ground between some of the heaviest (balanced) stouts on the market, and more typical imperial stouts.

Served in a 15.5oz Spiegelau tulip from a 16oz can. 2022 vintage.
Apr 24, 2022
Rated: 4.57 by WillieThreebiers from Connecticut

Apr 18, 2022
Rated: 4.5 by Danmullens1 from Wisconsin

Apr 11, 2022
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Reviewed by russpowell from Arkansas

4.18/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 2.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
2022 Vintage

Pours a very effervescent cola/mahogany color with one finger of caramel colored head. Some head retention, no lacing

S: Dark fruit, molasses, a touch of Bourbon barrel, a lot of this fades as it warms

T: Bourbon barrel, dark chocolate, vanilla & oaky dryness up front & some caramel too. Oaky dryness, molasses, vanilla, cola & dark chocolate as this warms, some woody hops. Finishes with a Bourbon flourish, vanilla, leafy hops & caramel

MF: Chewy, warming, restrained carbonation. Carbonation picks up a bit as this warms, great take on the style

Was hoping for more nose, my big letdown from this beer. If it matched the flavor, we are talking a different scenario. Close to perfect then
Apr 11, 2022
Rated: 4.75 by JamesLeung from Florida

Apr 09, 2022
Rated: 4.35 by kodt from Illinois

Apr 05, 2022
Rated: 5 by Hallertau from Wisconsin

Mar 26, 2022
Rated: 4.61 by dt_gbpackersfan from Missouri

Feb 28, 2022
Photo of barnzy78
Reviewed by barnzy78 from Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
750mL bottle, shared with my friend, Ken
2021, 12% ABV
L: near black body, tan head
S: boozy bourbon, oak, vanilla, caramel, roast
T: bold flavors; sweet and rich: caramel, vanilla, cacao nib, bourbon, toffee, brown sugar, cherry
F: full body, ample carbonation, alcohol is warming
O: incredible beer, but not as memorable as the previous years’ whiskey barrel aged Darkness - I feel like this was more sweet, while the whiskey barrel aged Darkness was more robust. This also seemed to be missing those massive dark chocolate notes that I love so much about Darkness
Feb 13, 2022
Rated: 4.42 by MrDarcy from Massachusetts

Jan 29, 2022
Rated: 4.77 by TheManiacalOne from Rhode Island

Jan 15, 2022
Rated: 4 by Hellpop65 from Kansas

Jan 09, 2022
Rated: 4.36 by glaserryan18 from Minnesota

Dec 31, 2021
Rated: 4.53 by dafla67 from Pennsylvania

Dec 13, 2021
Rated: 4.54 by VashonGuy from Washington

Nov 23, 2021
Photo of Ozzylizard
Reviewed by Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

4.32/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Darkness BBA 2021 from Surly. 750 mL (25.4 oz) bottle purchased from Shangy’s, Emmaus, PA. $21.76 (including tax) ($0.855/oz). Stored at room temperature in store and at 40 degrees after purchase. Reviewed 21/11/21. Note that I use DD/MM/YY protocol.
Etched on shoulder “BOTTLED 15:14 01/28/21 F5005B” and “2021” on rear edge of label. Served at 54.5 degrees in a hand washed and dried glass coffee cup. Final temperature 58.8 degrees.
Appearance – 4.5
First pour – Amber Brown (SRM 18), clear.
Body – Brown (SRM 30), opaque. When rear-lite, reddish around the edges but otherwise opaque.
Head – Average (Maximum 2.7 cm, aggressive center pour), wheat, average retention, diminishing to a seven to ten mm irregular crown and complete cap fed by moderate carbonation. Second pour produces a tight 1.3 cm head.
Lacing – Excellent! Forms a complete sheet of extremely tiny bubbles with a few tiny, lonely islands.
Aroma – 3.75 – Weak malted milk/chocolate and weak roasted malt. A bit of cooked veggies – odd but not disgusting. No hops, no yeast, no bourbon. The vegetal aroma vanishes as the brew warms.
Flavor – 4.5 – Taste follows the nose but slightly sweet with no vegetal overtones, no hops, no yeast. Sweetness builds in the aftertaste. No ethanol (12 % ABV, as marked on container) taste or aroma. Moderate warming throughout the upper GI. Allowing it to warm in my mouth brings out the bourbon, a bit harsh. No dimethylsulfide or diacetyl.
Palate – 4.5 – Full, creamy, soft but lively carbonation.
Final impression and summation: 4.5 Very good BBA RIS – the sweetness balanced by the harshness of the bourbon. Odor is a bit weak, but what there is, is not unpleasing. Palate is quite good, with the soft but lively carbonation complimenting the flavors. The price may seem a bit high but it’s certainly less than a drive to MN and back, with an overnight stay and freezing in a stationary line. Without Shangy’s, the odds are I’d never tried any of the iterations of Darkness! Thanks, Shangy!
Nov 21, 2021
Rated: 4.59 by tobelerone from New Jersey

Nov 01, 2021
Darkness - Bourbon Barrel-Aged from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 98 out of 100 with 353 ratings