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Damien | Surly Brewing Company

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very good
45 Reviews
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Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States

Style: American Black Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Ungertaker on 10-22-2011

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Reviews: 45 | Ratings: 308
Photo of Strix
2.95/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.75

Deep black, brown edges. Good initial head, fades to nothing.

Coffee, roasted malt, a little wood in the nose.

I'm not really sure what's going on here, but the actual taste is really bland. Like an old, cold, cup of coffee. I let it warm up hoping something else made an appearance but no. Basically like Guiness, but with less flavor.

Mouthfeel thin and near flat. I think this is part of what sinks this. My tapwater is chewier than this.

I've never had Darkness, but if it's anything like this I no longer need to.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured on tap at the Brewery into a tulip glass.

Jet brown with walnut dark highlights and quite opaque a bit, some transparency through the bottom of the head. A creamy tan head is presented, very light looking and almost orange in color. Neat looking beer.

Very different mix on the aroma. Slight fruity indistinct ester. Clean and very subtle flavors though being a bit closed. Hints to slightly raisin and hop accented fruit tones with a faint spicy to clove sweetness. Very pleasant but involves some exploring.

Very light bodied for a Casacadian on first sip. Slight roast in the mid palate with a bit of a hop punch. Very good hop tangerine orange like citrus finish while swallowing. Unfortunately missing some malt depth and is quite watery.

Tastes like a sessionable black IPA essentially. Good for what it is but was hoping for a little more.

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Photo of Sabtos
2.93/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pitch black with a large, fluffy caramel-tan foamy head that settles to a thin blanket.

Smell is woody cedar, coffee, roasted malt, and salted nuts.

Taste is actually less distinct and forgettable--there is so little flavor, to be honest, it almost doesn't seem like beer. How the aroma is so much more substantial than the flavor is beyond me. There is a little caramel, salted toffee, smokey wood, and a slight tart or floral note. Overall, it's all very light, and like a bitter cola, but really not as bitter or hoppy as I was expecting. There's some light milk chocolate, with a pineyness that is just barely there, along with a little wheat bread. I'm really reaching here, trying very hard to discern flavors, but there really isn't even all this much going on.

Feel is thin and watery, slightly crisp, with a faintly dry finish. I'm really surprised how watery this is when the look lets absolutely no light through, even with a bright LED flashlight pressed right up against the glass.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
2.88/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

750 mL bottle. Pours black with an ample khaki head. Smells of nutty and lightly nutty malts. Tastes of light roasted malt. A little creamy with some very light chocolate. Just a bit of pine hops. Really not a very dynamic flavor. Light body. Kinda boring. Not a black IPA, really. I know it's not supposed to be a heavy beer, but this is pretty watery and bland.

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Photo of Gotti311
4.6/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

I think this beer succeeds in so many areas where Darkness comes up short. The chocolate seems a bit heavier which keeps all the roasted notes in place very well. The slightly heavy hops really supplement this beer greatly. Bravo

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Photo of gregy55902
3.64/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Apparently this beer is 5% not 8% abv. Definitely tastes like watered down darkness, but yeah, that's what it is (parti-gyle and whatnot). I am picking up on the advertised citrus fruity hops, but they don't quite work with the base malts of this beer. Overall it's okay, but not Surly's best.

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Photo of jzlyo
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Aroma is pine, dark malts and uniquely perfumed. The flavor is earthy/dark malts, grapefruit, citrus and a mix of dryish and bitter/tart in the finish.

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Photo of morimech
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Looks great, smells good, tastes weak. Typical 2nd running type of beer and Surly did not work any miracles with this beer. Tastes like hop water but packs a lot of ABV.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

This was good but not as good as I expected and it drank much smaller than it's listed abv. Not as complex as I expected either for being "child of Darkness". Nonetheless an ample ale with darker malt but not significantly roasted with some fruit flavors, soft chocolate but unexpectedly small feel. Hopping seemed a little subdued but not non-existent.

 357 characters

Photo of CraigP83
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black, huge frothy mocha colored head. Malty, cocoa powder scent underlying pine. Interesting beer, almost porter like, touch of molasses, a bit dry. I don't get ANY tangerines or citrus like the label says.

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Photo of bsp77
4.09/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at Brew Hall. Semi-sweet core of brown sugar with lots of citrus and pine hops. Very dry finish. Not sure if I would call this an American Black Ale or mini Imperial Stout. Delicious, nonetheless.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.49/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

this is a let down for me. the first one they poured was full of yeast chunks. i returned it and they apologized, so no worries there, but even the second pour looked really yeasty for the style, chunky too, just not all that good, even on that second pour. the head is short but persistent though. it smells like dark malts but very thin, like pale two row and a dash of roasted unmalted barley without much else. there are some hops too, but i expected a lot more on this. more body, more flavor, more layers, more hops, more bitterness, everything. maybe a double black ipa, or a hoppy big porter, but its thin and under flavored for what it is, very let down bu the overall vibe on this. thin in feel, unexciting. this was the least enjoyable beer i had at surly, not that its bad, but i hold these guys to a much higher standard. this is slightly substandard.

 864 characters

Photo of cambabeer
3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

I liked this somewhat. Had on tap at brewery. It was too sweet in the malt character and there was not much hops to speak of. The carbonation was also overpowering. It was a lot like drinking soda, both in the feel and sweetness. It was also served ice cold, which is normal but I feel this beer could do better a little warmer. That was the case as I let it warm up. There were some nice malt characteristics in there, nice and grainy in the finish, but overall just too sweet for me.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Served from tap in a tumbler at Beer Market - Vernon Hills.

Insert Omen/South Park reference here. This stuff pours a straight black-brown topped by a finger or so of khaki foam. The nose comprises treacle, light cocoa powder, and dank greens. The taste brings in more of the same, along with some dark roast (nigh burnt) and a twang of dried maple syrup. The body is a light-leaning medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a generally fluid feel. Overall, this is exactly how I thought a second-runnings-from-Darkness black IPA would be. Not bad at all.

 567 characters

Photo of Redrover
4.04/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I had a couple of these while dinning at Haute Dish.

Served in a standard pint, the beer is black with a dark tan head. It has nice lacing.

Nose of roasted malts and lots of hops, just what the doctor ordered.

There is a hint of dark coco and chocolate from the malts. It was less hoppy than I expected (given the nose), but was still nicely balanced.

A nice medium mouth (lighter than I expected give the smell and appearance) added to the drinkability.

My waitress said it was a good choice when I ordered it, know what, she was right!

 546 characters

Photo of Stevedore
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

10oz pour into a Darkness goblet at the Surly Tap Room today, 11/29/2013.

Looks like a fairly standard black ale; very pitch black and opaque. But it looks quite thin when swirled around, in comparison to Darkness right next to it. Nice 1cm white head, nothing much going in terms of lacing.

Smells phenomenal. Really smells like a Black IPA; they must hop this stuff up with the same stuff they hop Abrasive with. Lots of citrus, grapefruit, a bit of pineapple and some pine. It's a citrus bomb.

Flavour kind of falls flat. The citrus flavours come through fairly well, but I'm not so sure what to make of its interplay with the roasted malt backbone. Its there in some capacity but it doesn't mesh very well with the citrus. It's not a typical flavour profile for a black IPA either.

On the thin side, a bit watery but OK carbonation. Some bitter aftertaste from the hops.

Interesting, especially once you hear about the premise behind it, but definitely not something I'd recommend trying more than once. Its simply not that great.

 1,039 characters

Photo of Philly82785
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I had it on tap last night at the Blue Nile. It poured black with minimal head. The nose was quite floral. It had a mouthfeel similar to a lager. The hop presence was pronuced in the taste but it wasn't bitter. You could also taste the roasted malts from the remenats of Darkness. It was similar to what I would expect a black IPA to taste like. I did however expect more bitterness. All in all still another good brew from Surly.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.37/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Served on-draught into a 12 oz stem-goblet at the Republic Bar in Minneapolis. Cost was $6.00. Reviewed from notes taken earlier this month.

A: Pours a half finger khaki-tan colour head of nice cream and thickness, but poor retention. Body colour is a solid black.

Sm: Chocolate, dark malts, roast, and hints of coffee. The pronounced roast is particularly inviting. A mild strength aroma.

T: Chocolate, a bit of coffee, dark malts, and hints of cream. Licorice. Balanced and decently built, but not complex or subtle. I do like it, but I expect better from Surly. Well layered. Pleasant.

Mf: Smooth and wet. A bit sharp. Good thickness and pretty good carbonation. Suits the flavours nicely.

Dr: Drinkable and flavorful, but Surly has far better beers. I doubt I'd get it again, but it was nice to try once. Hides its ABV well. Fairly priced.


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Photo of NilocRellim
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

We were told that this one was the "Son of Darkness." The ale was very dark in colour and had a cream coloured head which died quickly. Smokey, roasted grains in taste with a light body and finish; leaving a slight lingering palate. No forward malts or hops really detected.

Would I buy it again? Probably

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Photo of hardy008
4.09/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes from Darkness Day 2010.

Pours dark brown with a small tan head with decent retention and some lacing. Smells like grapefruit, pine, chocolate, and dark roasted malt. The grapefruit and pine aromas were stronger than the malt aromas.

The taste is just like the aroma with grapefruit, pine, chocolate and dark roasted malt. The hops are the star here, with the malt playing a supporting role.

Medium bodied with slightly below average carbonation. A nice flavorful beer, which I am glad I had a chance to try.

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Photo of stealth
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this at darkness day 2011. The black ale style was new to me at the time, so the citrusy/hoppy backbone really surprised me on the first taste. The clincher for me, though, was the chocolate and roast overtones that made this one a real unique treat. I hope Surly has this on-tap next year.

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Photo of mothman
3.64/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a half finger of creamy tan head. Thick head. Color is a dark brown with a caramel hue on the edges.

Aroma: Very hoppy. Chocolate and caramel. Floral, piney, and grapefruit notes. A lot of flavor for a small beer.

Taste: Very floral. Pine with grapefruit. A lot of hops here. A light roast with caramel and chocolate. A little bit of orange. Very citrusy.

Mouthfeel: Bitter, but creamy and smooth. Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation. Ends a little sticky, but good.

Overall, this is a fantastic small beer. Super hoppy. Reminds me of an ipa. Still, it has a nice malt profile to it. Perfect blend. I could drink a lot of this.

Edit: the 2014 Damien isn't very good. Not very flavorful. Tastes watered down. Hard to drink a pint.

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Photo of deebo
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap at Darkness day 11.

A-Dark as night with frothy tan head.

S-Very fresh citrus hops with plenty of malty sweet aroma.

T-The fresh hops really shine in this beer. This beer has a significant malt backbone but the hops are up to the challenge and gives a very satisfying taste.

M-Medium bodied and carbonated.

D-Very good, could drink the hell out of this beer.

O-Excellent beer, would love to get some more of this. Great balance of an overload of hops and malts. My favorite beer on DD.

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Going through my backlog of notes.

Poured from the tap into a sample glass at FFF XV party.

Pours a deep black with a wispy tan head that fades almost into nothing.

Smells of roasted malts and some piney hops.

You can tell this is Darkness's little bro from the taste. Good roasty malts with a hint of chocolate although the hop bite still powers through to make its presence known.

Mouthfeel is a touch on the lighter side, but only for those who like black beers thick like me. Fairly oily finish.

Very solid beer by Surly, but not earth shattering. Still if they canned it, I'd probably seek it out.

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Photo of Sean9689
3.77/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at FFF XV into a tasting glass.

A - Pours black, cream-colored head, thin ring, wisps on top.

S - Roasted hops, nice level of bitterness, some nuttiness. The level of hops and roast are nicely balanced...neither overpower the other.

T - Similar to the nose. Hops, roast, some dark chocolate, slight pine. I think I enjoyed the nose a bit more with this one, but still, a solid beer.

M - Perhaps a bit too thin, good carbonation, oily roast finish.

O - I think I was expecting a bit more from this one, being Surly really can do a number of different styles well. That said, it's still a nice beer and it was good, just not great. I would drink again, but not seek out.

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Damien from Surly Brewing Company
3.91 out of 5 based on 308 ratings.
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