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Damien | Surly Brewing Company

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very good
43 Reviews
no score
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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: 43 | Ratings: 304
Photo of DCon
2.85/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Enjoyed on-tap w/ BrewMaster Todd @ the Surly Brewing Company's Darkness Day 2011 in Brooklyn Center, MN for $5. Tapped from the black and plain handle into a 12oz Surly Cup.

Aroma- Tons of hop in the aroma and grain as well. Nothing huge in this aroma but it was nice to see such a big hop presence.

Appearance- Received with almost no head at all... I didn't care for this... Has the deepest brown aroma that could be available in a glass. Leaves no suds or any type of lacing at all.

Flavor- Has a ton of malt and roastiness but very watery and light... No hops found in here and goes down like nothing that should be classified as an English Brown Ale (btw, this one shouldn't say American Black Ale on top- talked and hung with Todd of Surly).

Mouthfeel- Very light bodied (which is okay), no carbonation, and a huge hop presence. Watery and very light on the palate at the finish and didn't mind.

Overall Impression- I'm sorry to do this but this beer went no where and did nothing for me. The left over grains from Darkness were used in this and I feel like this was all they used except for added hop. Sorry Surly but not a fan...

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Photo of Alieniloquium
2.88/5  rDev -26.7%
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 Sabtos
2.93/5  rDev -25.4%
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 cambabeer
3.18/5  rDev -19.1%
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 kojevergas
3.37/5  rDev -14.2%
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 morimech
3.49/5  rDev -11.2%
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 StonedTrippin
3.49/5  rDev -11.2%
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.

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Photo of mothman
3.64/5  rDev -7.4%
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 gregy55902
3.64/5  rDev -7.4%
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 garymuchow
3.73/5  rDev -5.1%
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.

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Photo of NilocRellim
3.75/5  rDev -4.6%
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 Sean9689
3.77/5  rDev -4.1%
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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Photo of TMoney2591
3.8/5  rDev -3.3%
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.

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Photo of robwestcott
3.82/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

cold and black from the tap to a first class plastic cup at FFF XV party with no head.

big hop aroma and perhaps a bit of smoke in the wayback.

grassy hops forward, smoke a bit of roasty malts.

light bodied, medium carbonation, medium bitter.

nice black IPA.

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Photo of CraigP83
3.84/5  rDev -2.3%
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 iadler
3.92/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On draft at town hall tap.

A- pours a deep black with a thin mocha head that dissipates in a thin cap. Some thin lines of lacing are left behind.

S- very grassy and piney with some grapefruit zest, coffee, unsweetened chocolate, and roasted malt.

T- coffee, unsweetened chocolate, and roasted malt with orange and grapefruit zest, grass and pine.

M- medium carbonation and a light to medium body. Finishes slightly bitter.

O- very flavorful and much more hoppy than darkness this year. Quite a light body as well as a low abv which makes it easy to have a few.

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Photo of gatornation
3.92/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap in a surly pint glass

A- pours a solid black color with a tan head and a fresh collar a little thin lacing on the glass

S- is grapefruit hops with charcoal,roasted malts,some smoke and wood,lots of hops

T- nice citrus hops upfront, with roasted malts and seared meat on the grill tastes,malt finish

M- light carbonation a little thin

O- a nice offering on tap very tasty very easy to drink hops and malts with a smoke/charcoal taste

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Photo of MasterSki
3.92/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the FFF 15th Anniversary Party. Served in a plastic cup.

A - Tan foam with good retention settles to a thick collar, leaving behind spotty lace. Dark brown body with some transparency when held to the light.

S - It's hoppy! Plenty of grapefruit, pine, and a bit of cat pee as well. There's a vague cheesy aroma that suggests the beta acids are starting to break down. Plenty of roasted malt character in the background. I know Todd at Surly says this isn't a Black IPA, but it sure as heck smells like one.

T - Taste has more chocolate and roast character, and less of the citrus hop flavors. There's some sugar cookie, and a bit of smoke and char as well. Medium hop bitterness, with a bit of black malt astringency.

M - Medium bodied, smooth texture, lower carbonation, and some residual hop oils and resins that linger through the finish and beyond.

D - A pretty enjoyable hoppy black ale. I suspect this was even better a few weeks ago. Hopefully this becomes a regular offering released alongside Darkness, as it satisfies some of my hop fix that isn't met by the most recent iterations of Darkness.

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Photo of JackieTH
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured at Darkness Day 2011, into a plastic cup.

The beer is black with translucent crimson red highlights, capped with and inch of sisal foam.

I was surprised by the big hops in the nose. Citric orange pith and pine with faint chocolate and malt.

Taste is bitter enough to keep the beer from being sweet despite the chocolate and roasted caramelly brown sugary malts, nice chocolate framed against the citric and piney hop. It certainly seemed more bitter than its 35 IBUs.

Creamy medium-light body and moderate carbonation. I thought it was quite tasty, and seems right in classification.

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Photo of Pintofbrown
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was served from a keg, waiting in line at Darkness Day. It was poured into a plastic Surly cup. This review is from my notes.

Appearance- The body is black with a finger of dark brown foamy head. I don't notice any lace on the cup at all.

Smell- That is a pretty good nose. There are definite citrus notes that make the caramel malt seem really tangy. There is also a distinct pine note in there. I like it well enough, but it certainly isn't my favorite type of beer.

Taste- The roasted malt is extremely tangy mixing with the orange and tangerine hop flavor. The finish presents more of the pine hops and dark malt notes. There's even a bit of chocolate in there.

Mouth feel- The mouth feel is a little light for the malt present here. It's just on the cusp of medium bodied. I wish it was a little smoother, but with the hop notes it finishes a little dry.

Overall- This beer was all right. It may just be the fact that black ales aren't my favorite style, because in Surly's defense, the beer is really balanced. If you ever see it, by all means try it.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.95/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of ndolover
3.97/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

This Black IPAish beer was served at Darkness Eve at Stub Herbs.

A: Black with ruby highlights. No real head, with small bubbles

A: chocolate malts with black treacle. Citrus hops with spicy overtones. Plum and fig present after it warms

F: Classic Black IPA with a overt chocolate twist. A bit astrigent, but well balanced with the malts.

M: A bit thin for my taste. Low cabonation, and some electric fire from the roast.

Overall: This is a fun beer with some unique flavors. Small beer from Darkness makes for a not to style Surly signature item. However, I did not enjoy this beer like I thougt I would. It was a bit astrigent, perhaps from over sparging? I would drink it again, but I wouldn't go out of my way.

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Photo of AgentZero
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - An almost black beer with a khaki head that left behind some decent lace.

S - Very hoppy. Some citrus, pine, and grapefuit over a roasted malt backbone.

T - Some roasted malts, bit of dark chocolate, and enough hop flavor to make it a hop beer without obliterating the rest of the flavors. Has an appropriate bitterness to it.

M - Medium bodied with lower carbonation.

O - Really packs a flavor kick for something that's only 5% ABV. Pretty easy drinking beer that I rather enjoyed and would like to have again.

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Photo of Florida9
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: dark brown. Forms a thin but very stable ligh tan head. Some light lacing.

S: roasty malts and citrus hops

T: thinner than expected. Roasted malta, coffee, grapefruit. Coffee acidity.

M: on thinner side of medium. Mild bitterness. Appropriate carbonation.

O: a very nice, very drinkable small beer.

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Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Second runnings of Darkness grains? A "green" beer then perhaps.

On-tap at Darkness Day 2011.

A darker brown color with some clarity. A frothy cap of sandy foam with some nice lacing.

The herbal, earthy and floral dry hopping comes through immediately. In the background is a lighter dusty cocoa and coffee taste from the grains. A very tasty lighter beer.

Lighter feel and quite smooth and dry.

I was surprised at how hoppy this beer was. A nice beer, but I wouldn't consider it an American Black Ale. It lacks the body and roasty notes associated with the style. Probably fits in better as a mild/brown ale hybrid, but whatever. The beer is good, drink it.

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Damien from Surly Brewing Company
3.93 out of 5 based on 304 ratings.
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