Damien | Surly Brewing Company

very good
62 Reviews

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: 62 | Ratings: 368
Photo of Gobearswalter34
4.73/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Pours a deep black with a one finger off-white head.
Smells of toasty nut, hop and chocolate with slight hop.
Roasted coffee and chocolate malts up front. Bitter hop and licorice join at the end. Wonderful warmth from hop and alcohol.
Good mouthfeel for an ale. Awesome brew!

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Photo of Gotti311
4.6/5  rDev +16.8%
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 mynie
4.6/5  rDev +16.8%
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.

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Photo of NickTheGreat
4.45/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

L (4.5) - Pours a very dark cola color. Almost black. Thin brown head on top.
S (4.5) - Smells like an IPA, kinda. But definitely masked by those roasted coffee-esque aromas.
T (4.5) - Tastes very good. Definitely get the roasted tastes at first, but plenty of the bitter hops to balance out. They kinda play tug-of-war with your taste buds.
F (4) - Smooth drinking beer but probably should be a little drier?
O (4.5) - I compared this to Blakkr, which I may like a little better. But I kinda bought this on a lark and was not disappointed. Good example if you're not familiar with the Black IPA types of beers.

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Photo of deebo
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
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 MattyG85
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Triple Rock Social Club in Minneapolis. Served in a standard pint glass.

Appearance: Dark and black with a little bit of brownish ruby red on the edges. Decent three finger light tan head that slowly fades into a patchy layer. Moderate amount of lacing.

Smell: Strong citrus hop aroma up front. Grapefruit, orange, and pineapple. Also some hints of herbal pine resin. Solid presence of dark roasted caramel malts. The toasted malts are noticeable but the citrus stands out the most.

Taste: A lot like the smell, big taste of citrus hops with notes of grapefruit, orange, and pineapple. Hints of pine resin. Bitterness from the hops is fairly mild. Dark roasted caramel malts give some balance in the background with hints of coffee, chocolate, and bready biscuit that lingers in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Body is on the lighter side of medium and carbonation is moderate. Feels somewhat prickly and kind of light for such a heavily hopped beer. Finishes dry.

Overall: A pretty solid black ale. Lots of tasty hops with a solid dark background. Lighter body makes for a very easy drinking beer. Great option if you want a lighter dark beer with a strong hop presence.

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Photo of Greggy
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours a black color with a 1.5 finger tan head. Once the cap recedes and I empty the pint, a bit of sparse lacing is present.

S- Bits of chocolate, piney hops, some toffee/nuttiness.

T- Starts with a bit of bitter chocolate, nut brittle backed with ample pine and grassy hops. The finish is slightly dry and a bit nutty.

M- Spot on carbonation and body.

D- Pretty darn drinkable. I'd definitely have this again.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: dark brown, clarity around the edges, creamy tan head, heavy lacing, great retention

S: earthy hops, chocolate, coffee, herbal notes pair nicely with roast

T: starts off with herbal and hoppy assault, roast is tame but present, well balanced

Mf: smooth, low carb, nice

O: great use of the darkness second runnings, quite drinkable.

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Photo of Ungertaker
4.33/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at Darkness Day 2011, poured into a plastic Surly cup.

A- black with crimson light penetration. A fluffy, cream-colored head adorns the top.

S- Big time hops, citrus, some chocolate, very faint malt

T- Piney hops with citrus appearing at the tail end. There are some notes of chocolate that arise in the middle.

M- medium to light body with a creamy feel from the carbonation.

O- for what has been thrown out in the past, this is an awesome beer. I would buy this in a heartbeat if it were bottled.

PS- my classification of this beer came from the description of the beer on Surly's website:


Damien: A dry-hopped black ale, spawned from the usually discarded remnants of Darkness. Flavors of roasted malt and dark brown sugar suffocated by aromas of tangerine and pine. 35 IBUs, 5% ABV.

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Photo of Philly82785
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
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 stealth
4.3/5  rDev +9.1%
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 NolaHopHead
4.27/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.24/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sometimes a black ale is a black ale. And not a Black Ale, or American Black Ale.
And grassy hops in abundance smell so fine!
There's this thing called a small beer that no one's ever heard of, and gee whiz, it's been done to Darkness.

A re-fermenting of the run-off malt and mash of Surly's Imperial Stout, Darkness, this one rings in at half the alcohol percentage, 5 %, but I don't know whether more hops and malt are added, or if more yeast is pitched and fermentation begins again with this old, spent mash. I suspect the latter.

Solid black, slim brown head, settles to a small ring.

Amazing aromatics, floor of a pine forest, mixed with citrus rinds. Beautiful, lively, and arousing. You want that in your IPA, you want that in your Double IPA, you'd like it in your potpourri by the bathroom sink, you want toothpaste made from it, you want to gargle with it, and sprinkle it on your oatmeal.

Taste: some gritty dark malt, some chocolate, black malt, giving the coffee flavors, the cocoa, with plenty of bitterness and hardly any sweet. Great texture, excellent play on the palate, plenty of room for calling it a hoppy porter, or black IPA, but yet it is not one. It is a reduced version of Surly Darkness, that still has plenty of potency and charm. Plenty of grassy hops still working on the tongue, pleasing the palate, and the aroma never quits, the grassy/piney hop combo mixing well with the cocoa and coffee malt character.

It's not as rich and full bodied as you might expect if you don't fully understand what they're doing. So stop expecting what doesn't exist and enjoy what does. It's not full-on ale, it's a baby imperial stout, but it still has that glimmer of madness, that gleam of it's father's eyes.

This is my kind of session ale, and one that I'd prefer above Surly Mild, or anything else with a leaner body, but wouldn't really reach for one instead of a porter, or a Bender. Good work, gentlemen, and a great idea, I'd love to see more of this tried now and then. Beer recycling, it's the way to go!

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Photo of angrybabboon
4.23/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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Photo of tempest
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Had a couple pints at the Blue Nile because it was damn tasty. The body did feel a touch thin, I'm guessing do to the nature of second runnings, but the infusion of biting grapefruit hops kicks things up a notch. The malt is on par with a great, but light porter full of chocolate roast with a dry, bitter finish. The hops are expertly balanced against the malt, and the sessionable body makes this beer stand out in a style crowded with great options.

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Photo of emerge077
4.22/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice Omen reference, this hellspawn of Darkness is aptly named.

Two pints, one after the other. Body appears black, with a thin layer of tan foam across the surface. It ebbs away slowly, lasting long enough to leave some spotty lace around the sides of the glass.

Dry hopping is evident in the resiny hop aroma, it's fruity and earthy at the same time. Roasted malt is there too, providing an interesting contrast to the citrus element. Hop aroma is really nice and assertive here.

Mild bitterness, assertive hops, some grapefruit and orange meld with a dry coffee roast, with a lingering bitterness from the two elements combined. Light bodied and very drinkable. Light carbonation, very drinkable. Dry aftertaste. Much hoppier than this years' Darkness, it later made an interesting blend with a little bit of Darkness in the mix.

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Photo of Cfred371
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

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Photo of ucis
4.2/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I wasn't disturbed or disappointed by anything made from Darkness remnants.

Subtle rye flavor and nice big hop profile for a black ale. It was a bit thicker than other brands in this style.

This would make a great session beer. Not to sweet, but still a nice looking beer. See through dark with a small dark head.

My friend David from France said this was the best beer there. Not too overpowering yet still nice and clean.

Is there really a bad beer made by this company? Subjective I know, but I have yet to try one.

So put on your makeup and take one for the team.


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Photo of vette2006c5r
4.19/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Damien pours a black color with a big, long lasting and lacing head. Big smokey and bitter aromas. The taste is bold, smokey, with a harsh bitter aftertaste. Slightly watery body. Overall, very tasty and smokey black ale.

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Photo of Mdog
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Dark brown with red highlights, good head.

Smell: Wow, this smells great, big citrus aroma. Without the visual I'd think it was an IPA.

Taste: Gives a touch of hops before going towards roasted flavor and finishing with hops. The middle kind of drops out of the beer, seems really light in body.

Drinkability: The light body makes it go down very easy. Session beer--a light stout/bitter mix is how I'd describe it.

A very interesting beer to try at the Hanger Room. It reminds me of the very light stouts like Guinness or Donnybrook from Victory, but with citrusy hops instead of a bitter roast finish. Very light body makes it easy to drink. Glad I got to try it!

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Photo of jzlyo
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
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 gopens44
4.11/5  rDev +4.3%
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

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Photo of bsp77
4.09/5  rDev +3.8%
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 hardy008
4.09/5  rDev +3.8%
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 Redrover
4.04/5  rDev +2.5%
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!

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Damien from Surly Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 368 ratings.
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