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Beer Information
Average Review High Score Low Score Reviews Tried Consumed
90 98 74 13 57 124

Latest news for Darkness
Surly Posts Darkness Day 2012 Details!
Surly Brewing Addresses Darkness Retail Price Variations
Surly Darkness Day 2011
Review by sunscar22 on 02/08/14  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
90 3 11 18 5 8 2013
Thank you Wisconsin beer for the surly!

Poored black and a nice two finger tan head with some tight bubbles that left some great lacing on the glass.

Smelled slightly roasty and a lot of alcohol.

Tasted similar to the smell with lest roast and more alcohol and a bit of fig? Some type of mellow fruit or something. I don't know.

Felt great, tasted great and now I have a great buzz and shouldn't be writing a review.

Served In: Tulip

Review by Stu on 11/15/10  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
92 3 11 18 5 9 2010
2010 Metal Flake Gray wax. Fuck wax.
Second time I've had this beer. The first was at the ABR a few years ago when it was held at Peavy Plaza and I have to say it wasn't that great but I blame it on many numerous samples of hoppy beers I had prior to the "Debut".

So, going off of memory from saturday, I'll attempt to review it.
Pours like a RIS, tan cap, decent carb.
Aroma of rich chocolate, roasted malts, a bit of dark cherry, and a squint of vanilla latte and lactose.
Flavor is balanced as all hell and similar to the aroma and never being too roasty or astringent. Not an underattenuated mess.
Mouthfeel is spot on and my overall impression is......this is one of the better RIS I've ever had.

God Damnit, I loved this beer even though I was extremely skeptical when dropping $20.00 for a 750.

Served In: Snifter

Review by bakes on 02/28/10  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
92 3 10 18 5 10 2009
Pours a deep, dark brown with a truly impressive tan head that slowly builds and leaves a sticky, clingy lace as it retreats. Aromas of dark toasted bread, fig, sugar plums, and earthy hops, along with faint cocoa and some pineapple.

It'd be easier to describe the stout flavors that don't show up. Starts out with sugared plums, figs, and a flavor that I cannot quite place but love - like chocolate malt infused with an earthily spiced molasses. So full and yet smooth. The bitterness, big and bracing, comes in mid sip, in balance. Yet above this maltiness the spicy hoppiness, which may be what gives it that hint of tropical fruit (I won't guess at the alchemy at work here, just enjoy it) plays with the olfactory senses and rounds things out. Absolutely blossoms at about 50 degrees. Finishes with more dark fruitiness, very faint warming alcohol, all drenched in that cocoa-malt-dried plum-molasses chewiness. Just wonderful. Thick, yet silky mouthfeel. Wait, just got a hint of coffee in that last sip. The aftertaste makes you want to not eat or drink anything for a while, just to enjoy the hell out of it.

Easily in my top ten, and can think of very few beers that I would want to have if this were available.

Many thanks to TipTop for the bottle! :thumbup:

Served In: Pint Glass

Review by tavernjef on 02/03/09  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
92 3 9 19 5 10 2008
Dark pruney brown. Thickly puffed and creamy milk chocolate browned topping that stays for a good stint. After a time, a sandy skim is remaining with a firm collaring and thinnly placed sheets of lace coats the glass with immense sticking power.

Aroma is a lofty yet mild with an array of sweet dark fruity skins and juices of plum, pineapple, banana, and fig, all mixing with a dollup of chocolate cake and frosting. Ethanolic heat gets in the way as it sits and becomes the everstanding presense after a while, but stay fairly tropical and cocoa covered.

Taste is a brigade of sweet, dark flavors; at first, as this Imp. Stout changes its way some as it goes. But this has a tropical, yet dark, sweet front side that has a good slice of dullish pineapple, some slimming banana, dried plums and figs, and a scant of spicey molasses. Then chocolate comes in and covers it all up with one creamy cake filling smoothness and slight bitterness. The palate is soothed over with a delightful stand of bold chocolate tone in a fluff of dark cocoa bitterness. Slight hints to the spice and fruits lingering in the corners. A mighty nice taster of a stout. The front part starts bright and tropical, but fades as it warms. This was served pretty darned chilly for an Impy, but patience pays off by letting it sit about 10, 15 minutes.

Feel is smoothly silken and thickly set in a grand tone of wonderfully delightful chocolate malt and brief, slippery Doppelbock dark fruityness. Firm and strong with only a slight hint to higher ABV type warmth that's not really evident in any fashion other then the aroma. It reminded my of a chocolate silk pie. Kinda fluffy with that certain texture thats melting and coating. Quite nice. The finish is lengthy in chocolate tone and blended well in dark set bitterness.

Surly have done themselves well with this treat. A true winter sipper that can be easily enjoyed fully and with more in mind once the glass has emptied.
Beware: Darkness has set across the Land of Minnesota Beerdom. Close the door and lock it behind you. It's time for drinkin' some Darkness!

Served In: Goblet

Review by smellysell on 12/27/08  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
74 3 7 14 5 8 2008
There couldn’t possibly be a more fitting name for this beer than Darkness. It pours an absolutely jet black into my snifter. The head is big, brown, and soapy. The head lingers for a decent amount of time and provides spotty lacing.

The aroma is surprisingly muted. There are some touches of chocolate malt and alcohol, but otherwise not a whole lot going on.

Milk chocolate flavors jump at you immediately after taking a sip. In the middle it rounds into some bittersweet chocolate and molasses, before finishing with a slight alcohol bite. It finishes extremely long and as the alcohol fades at the very end the sweetness returns. I’ve heard people talk about a substantial hoppiness in previous batches, but I don’t pick up any of that, with the exception of hops possibly contributing to the bittersweet flavor in the middle. The balance isn’t what I would hope for, the sweetness comes across as a bit artificial and cloying, but the flavor is still enjoyable.

I don’t think the body could possibly be any better. Very thick and creamy, with just a touch of carbonation. The smoothness is incredible.

I really enjoyed this beer, but it was just a bit sweeter than I would personally prefer. I’m really interested to see what happens to the other bottle with some time in the cellar.

Served In: Snifter

Review by SAP on 10/14/08  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
80 3 10 15 4 8 2008
Bottle Number 172, 2nd RB Tucson Tasting, Sampled September 2008
This beer pours with a frothy, thick textured, light brown colored head and is quite pitch black in color. The aroma has notes of chocolate and cocoa up front, but quickly gets to notes of dark roast and lightly acidic coffee. It has a lightly smoky aroma to it that is almost peat like at times and there is a roast plum fruitiness to it. This does not have as sweet / rich a malt base character to the aroma as I expected. This has a nice grain character that takes on umami laden notes that are a touch like teriyaki, but there is also some subtle licorice and mint notes. The roast character is definitely dominant in the nose, but there is other stuff going on that makes this quite the intriguing beer to be smelling.

As this beer first hits my tongue it feels very thick, chewy and is more sweet than the aroma suggested, but it is still roast malt dominated. There are flavors of coffee, bitter cocoa and burnt grain bitterness that lingers on in the finish with the amply bitter hop notes. Concentrated umami notes in the flavor of rich malt character and some notes that are picked up of a rich, savory, almost salty-smoke character as well as some flavors of burnt, dried plum.

This is subtle complex and it really grew on me as I worked my way through the beer; there is definitely lots of things going on in this beer and it is one of the better Imperial Stouts I have had in a while.

Served In: Tulip

Review by feloniousmonk on 08/11/08  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
96 3 12 18 5 10 2008
(notes: October, 2006)
My Darkness sits in a Duvel tulip glass, the roasty brown espresso-tinged head filling the top, and the actual beer as black as the darkest night, saturated with sin. Tannish lace stays long on the glass. This bleak cast may scare away the timid, those less ready to tango with the Stygian side, but the nose entices me in, and am undaunted as I step into the dark.

A blast of coffee hits first, married with copious cocoa, bitter and sweet stand side by side, neither in dominance. Hints of dark rum, molasses, black pepper and anise are mixed in this aroma of this heady brew, and it only gets richer the more you drink it in the nose. Sweeter elements eventually take charge, but it's still a deep, almost spicy blend.

To taste: Massive mouthfeel, thick, gooey, and absolutely delicious. Choclate is in full force, but matche once more with earthier aspects, the coffee, the spice, the slick black strap. Incredibly pervasive on the palate, this stout commands every inch of the senses, sending tasty tendrils up in each crack in the cavern of the mouth. Plenty of hops at play (80 IBUs), bobbing just below the malt.

Sip, gulp, swallow, and the parade of flavors begins again, dancing along the tongue, like some malefic ballet. Dark fruit sensations rise up and leave the mind searching for the connection. Dark cherries, berries, raspberry? ....but completely covered in a shell of chocolate. The lip smacks, the tongue scrapes up remnants of this rich elixir, not to miss a drop of deliciousness.

To state "full-bodied" would be an act of redundancy. This is huge, long, and out of the ordinary. Ends smooth and dryly, a pleasing finish, still loaded with flavor, never dying away completely.

Puts many a RIS to shame, though I'd love to sit down and do a comparison among others. To the great credit of Darkness, the alcohol content does not really stick out until nearing glasses end, and the less attractive aspect is that the beautiful dark, rich flavor leaves you craving more, ...although you probably shouldn't. (It's 9.5%, give or take.)

I entered the heart of Darkness, and peered into the abyss...found it satisfactory to my soul, and I believe I will take this midnight ride again and moderation...

Served In: Flute Glass

Review by seaoflament on 07/20/08  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
88 3 10 18 5 8 2008
Huge thanks to floydster for helping me out with a bottle of this rare beer. Split this bottle last night with a few good friends (Joey, Ryan, Tony +1). The bottle number was mostly rubbed off during shipping, I think there is a 1 and a 6.

Not the darkest stout I’ve seen but the beauty was in the inch+ of head, the excellent retention and lacing. Soapy spider legs on the sides of the glass (Surly pint glass of course!)

The beer has an impressive roasted aroma, not overdone which I like, and also has a pronounced bitterness. The bitterness is both in a roasted/smokey type and also the citrus hops which are fading into the background. As the beer warmed up there was more caramel, cocoa, and chocolate.

The taste was a little more complex than the aroma (probably because this one has been sitting for a few months already). First I get the roasted malts, dark fruits (dates, raisins), some brown sugar; then I start getting more heavily roasted flavors in the form of burnt malts. There is some coffee and chocolate near the finish and anise in the aftertaste. The hops come in near the end with some earthy and a bit of citrus bitterness.

The mouthfeel of this beast was probably what impressed me the most, really smooth and silky. The beer just felt graceful on the palate. For such a high abv. stout monster, this beer really drinks well.

I hope to get a fresh bottle of this at the next release because I think that I might have missed some of the hop essence that makes this beer grand.

Served In: Pint Glass

Review by tangfoot on 04/25/08  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
94 3 12 19 4 9 2008
Bottle #62.

From presentation to pour, it was outstanding. Beautifully waxed bottle, black as night liquid topped with an extremely fluffy tan head.

The hop aroma hit me immediately and would have surprised me if I wasn't expecting it. The initial smell doesn't indicate it's a RIS at all, but then you can start to smell some of the more typical Imperial aromas as you get used to the hops.

The flavor is a conglomerate of wonderfulness. The hops are very strongly represented, but the most impressive thing about this beer is the smooth creaminess combined with the ability to not taste ANY of the alcohol. It had coffee, chocolate, and sweet malt mixed in with those wonderful hops. Quite impressive.

Overall, I'd say that this is one of the most well-balanced RIS I've had, but I also think that the hops take away from a little bit of what I consider to be "true" Imperial flavor.

Served In: Pint Glass

Review by mr. furley on 02/23/08  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
84 3 10 16 5 8 2008
thanks Eileen!

smells really nice on first crack. hop aroma is pretty strong right off. chocolate is there but the hops are more noticeable.

most noticeable to me is a strong dark fruit. chocolate. faint coffee. first half reminded me a lot of Rogue IS. the warmer it got the more it reminds me of a blend of that and Stone.

silky smooth, coats the tongue and mouth. bit of a hop bite in the finish that takes the overall down a bit.. i'd rather it finish a little more chocolatey and less hoppy.

man are my reviews rusty.

i like it.. like a few others better but this one is certainly drinkable.

Served In: Pint Glass

Review by Kegergator on 02/04/08  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
92 3 11 19 4 9 2008
Bottle #242 from MikeWeiss> :cheers:

Almost a black pour. I can barely get any light through the edges of the brew. THick tan head dominates the top of the brew. It settles into a nice layer on top while leaving great lacing along the side of the glass. The rumor of a hoppy stout are true as far as the nose. Definitely there. Some nice amounts off roasted malts and chocolate. Taste is aggressive up front. Roasted malts and chocolate are taking over. Some nice coffee flavors and a really clean light bitter hop finish. As it warmed up the alcohol comes out also and lingers with the hops in the end. Solid mouthfeel and overall one of the most unique stouts i've tried.

Served In: Pint Glass

Review by Duckboy on 12/29/07  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
98 3 12 19 5 10 0
Thanks to Tip Top for this one in the 1st TBS Secret Santa.

Poured into the Darkness snifter (also from TT). Dark, dark, dark, with a large tan-coffee head. Picked up the hop undercurrent early, but plenty of chocolate and coffee in this one. Keeping my nose in this for a while.

A lot of flavors to this: coffee, choclate, licorice, molasses, roast malt, and hops at the finish. Extremely smooth - one of the smoothest RIS's I've had. Coats the mouth and toungue, finishes ever so slightly bitter. Carbonation is well balanced. Will be sipping this one for a while, but the ABV is well hidden.

Wow is about all I can say for this one. Ranks right there with the best of the best RIS - easily in my top 5. Thanks TT, I owe you for this one!

Served In: Snifter

Review by Tip Top on 12/29/07  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
98 3 12 19 5 10 0
A - This is what the great RIS's look like. Black as night with a big, thick, creamy oatmeal head.

S - Big robust aroma that I can't get enough of. Chocolate, molasses, expresso with a touch of licorice. What makes this one a little different is a nice citrusy hop bitterness lying beneath all of this.

T - I don't know that I can imagine it being better. All kinds of distinct flavors here. Cocoa, milk chocolate, licorice expresso and a bunch of citrusy hops. This bad boy is rich and big demanding to be sipped. Nice citrusy hop wash at the finish.

M - Full bodied with a nice smooth feel to it. Carbonation is subtle and silky.

D - Wow, this is as close to perfection as I have tasted in a RIS so far. I have no problem ranking this up there with Stone IRS, etc. Great beer from a great brewery. Nice work Todd!

Served In: Other

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