Damien | Surly Brewing Company

BA SCORE
88
very good
60 Reviews
DamienDamien
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company
Minnesota, United States
surlybrewing.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
60
Ratings:
360
Avg:
3.94
pDev:
10.41%
 
 
Wants:
19
Gots:
34
For Trade:
0
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Reviews: 60 | Ratings: 360
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.49/5  rDev -11.4%
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 kojevergas
3.37/5  rDev -14.5%
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.

B-

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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 mothman
3.64/5  rDev -7.6%
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 Jason
4/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.8/5  rDev -3.6%
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 Ciocanelu
4/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
2.88/5  rDev -26.9%
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 smakawhat
3.82/5  rDev -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 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 MasterSki
3.92/5  rDev -0.5%
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 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 Davepoolesque
3.97/5  rDev +0.8%
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.

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Photo of Stevedore
3.95/5  rDev +0.3%
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 maximum12
3.53/5  rDev -10.4%
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.

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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 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 cosmicevan
3.5/5  rDev -11.2%
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.

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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 jera1350
4/5  rDev +1.5%
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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Photo of morimech
3.49/5  rDev -11.4%
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 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 AgentZero
4/5  rDev +1.5%
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 Sabtos
2.93/5  rDev -25.6%
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 garymuchow
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
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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Damien from Surly Brewing Company
3.94 out of 5 based on 360 ratings.
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