Surly Brewing Company

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IPA - Black / Cascadian Dark Ale
Ranked #85
Ranked #10,209
3.97 | pDev: 9.82%
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
Very Good
Notes: From the blackest depths of the brewhouse comes Damien, Child of Darkness. Spawned from the usually discarded remnants of Darkness, Damien is a dry-hopped black ale with flavors of roasted malt and dark brown sugar. Tangerine and pine aromatics only add to its insidious appeal.
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Reviews: 75 | Ratings: 432 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of arizcards
arizcards from North Carolina

3.95/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Picked up a 16 oz single from the Kings Beer & Wine cooler 10-7-20 for $3.49. Canned 8-20-20; consumed 1-8-20. Cold stored since purchase.

Beer poured black with a very nice tan head that has some great hang time.

Nose has hints of roasted and citrus hops.

Taste is really well balanced with the medium roast malt baseline balanced perfectly by grapefruit hops; 5/10 on my bitterness scale.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and fairly smooth.

Overall a pretty good black ale which are far and few between these days!

Jan 08, 2021
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Franziskaner from Missouri

3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black in color with minimal light penetration. There’s a an inch of densely packed creamy brown on top. Light lacing. The aroma is of lightly roasted malt, a light nuttiness, and faint pine. I’m tasting toasted malt, light pine, and caramel. The mouth is dry and lightly dense.

Nov 07, 2020
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beerthulhu from New Jersey

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Canned 8.20.20 Consumed 10.22.20

A: One finger soft spongey textured head shows a solid retention with a dark, khaki coloring. Quick paced effervesce moves within, dense in packing, small in size. A full sheet coating on the vessel remains from the fall of the head. The pour, a dark mahogany has beet reddish highlights when backlighted.

S: Sweet sugars and roasted cake for aroma. Light cola-pine with some milky chocolate. Cashew nuttiness, toasty grains, with some sweet dark fruit of figs, and plums. Easy scent, relaxing milk stout like finishes with some smoky roast.

T: Roasty and smoky malt start for the flavor. Dark fruit touches, plums and figs are sweet around the edges provides balance. Smokey pine hops, toasted grapefruit peel, with an earthy bitterness. Spicy tarragon, toasted citrus with some roasted barley and cake like breadiness. Roasty pine lingers long on the tongue there-after. Some oily coffee residue, hoppy sticky resins with some woody silt ash.

M: Sharp and crisp mouthful, bubbly on the tongue. Slick and sticky feel, roasted bittering of warm freshly charred wood on inner cheeks with a strong bearing.

O: Good deal of roasted barley and earthy roasted pine hops and bready burnt cake. It's been awhile since I have had a black Cascadian ale, after a short lived hype period. This is a good reminder of what the style could be. A nice rare treat by style made more memorable drinking near Halloween.

Oct 28, 2020
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57md from Pennsylvania

4.31/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich and deep dark brown color with a finger of beige head. The nose has moderate notes of roasted malt with a slight tinge of hoppiness. The flavor definitely leans toward the malty side but the hops bitterness comes on pretty solidly on the finish. Subtle smokey notes also waft in occasionally.

The body is hearty considering the lower abv.

It has been a long time since I had a top shelf black ale - this certainly fits the bill.

Sep 19, 2020
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defunksta from North Dakota

4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a very dark, nearly black color with a medium to light tan head. SRM of 23. (3.75)

Aroma: Aromas of dark malt. There's blackened toast, licorice, anise, and char. There hints of roasted cocoa, but only hints. A light baked brown sugar sweetness, but actually smells quite dry.

Flavor: Flavors follow the nose with more dark malt, licorice, anise, charred leather. There are hints of some milk chocolate and cream, but rather I think just cream. Traces of citrus and pineapple. Again, only hints of cocoa. Finishes dry and clean without any bitterness.

Feel: Lighter-bodied than I expected. Good carbonation, but also not overpowering. Hides the alcohol well. Finishes simple and clean.

Compared to Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale 5/17/20: Pours a darker black color with a much smaller head. Stronger roasty and airy black malt. Less citrus, pine, soap, bitterness. Less body and sweetness. Much dryer and cleaner to say the least.

Overall: A pretty good Black Ale. Hits the notes just right of dark malts, black toast, and char. It's black, but also has notes of citrus and pineapple which is interesting. Nice, dry, and clean. Extremely drinkable for 6.5% and I think that's the scariest part about this beer, other than the label. (Final Rating: 4.04)

May 17, 2020
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wheatyweiss from Wisconsin

4.59/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 16 ounce can into a chalice.

Pours a dark, murky black. Head receded slowly leaving sticky lacing.

Aroma is of dark fruits upfront. Raisin, currant and dates. Brown sugar and molasses. Sweet roasted meat and veg.

Flavor is if dark roasted malt. Smokey, peaty and a bit bitter. Darkened fruit, caramelized in butter with smokey charred meat.

Mouthfeel is slick and oily. Carbonation is just enough to cut the sweetness.

Amazing flavor, love it.

May 06, 2020
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Mindcrime1000 from South Dakota

3.88/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a pint can into a tulip.

Pours black as night, but appropriately medium bodied with a nice three fingered tan head. Limited retention but excellent lacing and lively bubbles.

The aromas are "straight" and expected for the style but nothing special, and somewhat subdued. Toasted/roasted malts and mild pine/resin hop. Hints of floral, grassy, and earthy notes.

The flavors are a bit stronger and welcome. Roasted malts, hints of coffee and chocolate, as well as some dark fruits are initially noticed, with some anise and general herbal notes. Some faint citrus notes join the party in midstream before pine hoppiness and just a touch of booze arrive at the finish. Some faint mineral notes manifest as the brew warms. Like the aromas, the flavors seem somewhat subdued and restrained. They are "nice" but nothing pops.

The feel is excellent. Although at least medium-bodied in reality, the feel comes across lighter than that, with plenty of effervescence, and some drying at the finish, which is actually fairly remarkable considering how opaque the brew is.

A solid take on the style, Damien checks the boxes for a Cascadian, and delivers hallmark flavors, but those flavors are subdued, which keeps the brew from reaching top-flight level.

Nov 10, 2019
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SawDog505 from New Hampshire

4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Got this can from @Nachos4two and if it is National IPA Day why not have a black IPA. Poured into a 16 Nordic pint glass not sure when it was canned. Pours near pitch black with a finger of sticky light brown head that leaves plenty of webs of lace behind. 4.25

Smell is cocoa nibs, Expresso, pineapple, tangerine, vanilla bean, toffee, and hints of grapefruit rind. 4

Taste follows chocolate, coffee, vanilla, toffee upfront ends with pineapple, orange, and a hint of grapefruit. 4

Mouthfeel is bigger than medium, plenty of life, a tad dry, and at 6.5% ABV extremely drinkable, but way more flavor than most at this ABV. 4.25

Overall I have always been a fan of this style that is slowly fazing out and this is an excellent example of the style. 4

Aug 01, 2019
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bbtkd from South Dakota

4.02/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Surly Damien Child of Darkness Ale, 6.5% ABV. Pours black, with a nice two finger tan head. Nose is roasty and slight caramel, taste is caramel, roast malt, piney hops, slightly sweet, slightly bitter. Excellent mouthfeel, overall excellent.

Nov 04, 2018
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brentk56 from North Carolina

4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: After an impressive bubble show, the head settles in on three fingers of tan foam; the liquid underneath is fudge colored with ruby highlights; webby lacing

Smell: Roasty, with chocolate and coffee tones wrapped in a pine cone hug

Taste: Black bread, roast and black licorice forward, with piney hop flavors building, through the middle; a berry fruit character builds, after the swallow, adding a sweet aspect to the finish; overall, the roast and hops are dominant and there is a hop bite on the finish

Mouthfeel: Medium to full body with moderate carbonation

Overall: I find myself going back and forth on this beer; I have had far better and far worse ABAs but I almost think of this in a different category as there elements here that are not typically found in that style

Thanks, NathanBeets, for the opportunity

Apr 07, 2018
Photo of barnzy78
barnzy78 from Illinois

4.22/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750mL bottle, pours jet black with a fluffy khaki head that holds incredible retention. Dark cocoa, roasted barley, and molasses for aroma. Bold roasty malt with dark chocolate cover the palate tasting similar to Darkness, but a bold piney hop presence creates increasing bitterness on the finish that melds well with the roasty charred grain; caramel and a bit of raisin come through as it warms. Full body, piney hops resins coat the palate, starts roasty and ends bitter. Overall, a cool beer creating something out of left-over Darkness otherwise discarded. I find the label a bit creepy, but the beer inside is good!

Dec 18, 2017
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chinchill from South Carolina

3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml shared bottle.
Moderately hoppy, not quite to the level of a black IPA.
Rich aftertaste with hints of burnt toast but mainly dark roasted grains.

May 07, 2017
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Victory_Sabre1973 from Minnesota

3.89/5  rDev -2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This beer pours quite dark, nice black color. The head was off white - 1 1/2 finger, and frothy. The taste is fairly mellow. There's some maltiness to it. Maybe some of the wooden barrel. There's some burnt notes in it. Maybe even a hint off sweetness. Very interesting beer. Not as thick as Darkness, it's parent, but not a thin feeling beer either.

Mar 05, 2017
Photo of gopens44
gopens44 from Virginia

4.11/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Opaque blackness under a more fizzy than not beige head that leaves a curtainy lace.

Raisins, molasses and oak figure solid in the nose. Upon exit, something with noble hop quality and maybe a hint of vegetable.

First wave of taste is the oak. Not like whiskey barrel, straight up oak, like the virginal oak you find in a Chardonnay. Backing it up is that noble hop quality. Finally, we have only hints of molasses, but nothing nearly as sweet as what the nose suggested.

Body is not nearly as thick as I thought it would have been, as seriously, I could almost guzzle this. But I won't..... Finish is bitter, wet and finally a touch sweet, maybe.

I love Cascadians, and this one is a good representative of why. Bold, yet quenching

Mar 02, 2017
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mynie from Maryland

4.6/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle. A few months old. I love how even though Surly is now a fairly large production brewery who are held in universally high esteem they still sometimes do bottle art that looks like it was taken from a high schooler's notebook in 1997.

A dark pour. A pour... of THE DAMNED. Very black, very opaque, with a light head and good lacing.

Smells charred and chocolatey with minimal hop presence--basically everything I look for in a black ale aroma. The grain bill takes center stage, and it's assertive and interesting enough to carry the whole show.

Tastes burnt, fruity, peaty, and creamy. Perhaps a little aged, but not unpleasantly so. Starts with charred grain with some balancing nodes of coffee and chocolate, the middle is sweeter with strong nodes of ripe, generic fruit, and then at the end there's finally some American hops with a hint of marshmallows. The finish is of an old school RIS, sticky and vaguely vinous.

This is a rare beast for 2017, in that it tries to innovate within a stylistic frame rather than just do its own thing outside of any means of mooring. This is a black ale that starts like a stout and ends like an APA but then the aftertaste like an old, English russian imperial.

Feb 19, 2017
Photo of Jason
Jason from Massachusetts

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sample from brewery. Notes taken back Oct 2016.

Great idea to pull some runnings from Darkness, and this beer coming in at 8% means Darkness would perhaps big an even more massive beer than it already is.

Great take on the American Black Ale, even coming from an Imperial Stout base this is beer does have that roasted character but not so much it would take it out of its style. Well hopped, big but balanced. Its really hard to notice the 8% abv until several sips in. I want to see more from Surly like this beer.

Feb 19, 2017
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Ciocanelu from Romania

4/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really dark brown color with mocha head. Aroma has dark malt, some sugar, even a hint of liquorice. Taste starts with chocolate, roasted malt, caramel and finishes with just a hint of roasty and earthy bitterness. Medium body, soft carbonation. Overall it's quite good but nothing really special.

Jan 27, 2017
Photo of Cfred371
Cfred371 from Minnesota

4.2/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

First things first: whoever designed the bottle art should be fired. I hate the label, HATE it. Bottled 11/07/2016, so not too fresh, but it's a black ale, so it shouldn't be terribly important.

Look: Damien, while pouring, comes out a brown color, but in the glass appears black, and opaque. A nice slight tan head appears up top, and is nice and thick.

Smell: I first am hit with a wave of chocolate, coffee, and, after swirling, am greeted with the piny hops the black ale is dry hopped with.

Taste: There's a lot going on here: anise, leather, some coffee roast notes, the piney hops, and, surprisingly, not all that much chocolate. What chocolate is there is a bitter, bakers cacao.

Feel: Reminding myself this is a black ale, not a stout, the body is alight. Medium bodied, carbonation prevalent throughout, and a slight bitterness/drying presence in the finish

Overall: This is a tasty beer worth seeking out. While not Surly's best offering, at 7 or 8 dollars a bomber, it is about right for the price.

Dec 30, 2016
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maximum12 from Minnesota

3.53/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle split with my wife, who used a random number generator to pluck a bomber out of the fridge. Not what I would have picked tonight, but hey. Dated 9/30/16.

Pour is dark brown with a long-last Tempur-Pedic head (though I’m sure a lot softer than those torture devices in the guise of mattresses). Smells like an old nut brown with a sideboob of piney hops & roast. Interesting.

Damien - proving not every black IPA sucks (they should put that on the label). The roast & the pine cone hops are in nice harmony; xtreme roast is what dooms most of these halflings. Mild sweetness. Citrus & bitterness take the hand of the pine & lead it all the way to the end as the non-hops vanish from the scene. Disconcertingly creamy, & it takes concentration to drink this.

What’s really a Frankenstein, made-up-ass category that should have been smothered in the crib has had a few tolerable outliers, & this is one of them: Surly has found a balance that works. Good beer.

Dec 14, 2016
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Davepoolesque from Massachusetts

3.97/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Roasted malt, pine and bitter dark chocolate. Some nice bitterness on the end. Real good for a hoppy black ale. Surly knows their way around a black ipa.

Nov 28, 2016
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Czequershuus from Minnesota

3.35/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

This beer pours a deep black with a large, foamy, mocha colored head. The aroma offers up coffee, smoky-roastiness, with some chocolate and raisin. The flavor is replete with roast coffee notes, cocoa powder, fruity pebbles cereal, tropical fruit, and something that reminds me of fancy soap. The mouthfeel is very light, almost thin, with fairly low carbonation. Overall, this does feel like a seconds thought of a beer - a bit thin with some unusual flavor combos.

Nov 19, 2016
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angrybabboon from Massachusetts

4.23/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Consumed 11/6/16

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for the share

A: Appears black from a distance, but really dark brown - pours with a medium size, light tan head, fades to a medium size, creamy head

S: Dark and roasty, with some chocolate malts, burnt malts, smoke, and char - dark caramel, dark chocolate - leather - nice hoppiness as well, with some citrus and some grass - low sweetness

T: Dark but nicely small - dark and roasty, dark chocolate, baker's chocolate, semisweet chocolate, toast, roast, smoke, char, leather, some dark fruit - some pine, grassy hops, and citrus - some dark fruit - light sweetness - lots of flavor

M: Medium body, smooth, medium carbonation, dry finish

O: It's like Darkness without the hangover

I don't think of Damien as an American Black Ale. It's a small beer made from Darkness, and most of the magic of Darkness is here, just in a milder form. If you enjoy Darkness, this is definitely worth tracking down.

Nov 07, 2016
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NolaHopHead from Louisiana

4.27/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 ml bottle. Very tasty black IPA, both the aroma and taste have very nice balance of roasted malt and hops. Medium silky feel. Would definitely have this one again.

Nov 06, 2016
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cosmicevan from New York

3.5/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

didn't even know this thing existed until a recent swap with timthebatteryman. cheers bud, and thanks for the cool extra. as for the brew itself, nothing too special...kinda like a watered down black ipa. light roast light hop just really light all around.

Nov 05, 2016
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WesMantooth from Ohio

3.7/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a snifter.

It is a medium viscosity jet black with an ample amount of light brown foamy head. Really good retention. Leaves a noce film and some slotty lacing, and is easily agitated back into some soapy bubbles.

Smells very one dimensional. All hops. Very, very strong floraly pine. A bit of charred aroma and some licorice being suppressed in the background.

Very surprised by the flavors. Much more balanced than I would have ever expected. I was thinking Founders Dark Penance, but it has a nice amount of roasted, slightly charred malts, some brown sugar, some sort of baking spice, and licorice. A hint of tobacco, and a significant amount of orange/tangerine. There is a bit of lingering resinous pine needles.

It has a pretty good amount of carbonation. Lively feel. The consistency is a bit more watery than I would like.

While the flavors are good, and nicely balanced, the depth is lacking a bit. The roasted malts just don't come across very strong and it is a bit thin tasting and feeling. Pretty good beer, but not toward the top of my black ales list.

Nov 01, 2016
Damien from Surly Brewing Company
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 432 ratings