Brew Review: Surly Darkness 2011 (10-28-2011)

23 Jan

Brew: Darkness (2011)

Brewed by: Surly Brewing Co. (Brooklyn Center MN)

Style: Russian Imperial Stout (10.3% ABV)


One of the heaviest hitters in the American craft brewing scene. I acquired this bottle, plus 6 others, via Darkness day at the brewery on Oct. 22nd. I opened this bottle on Oct. 28th with some friends, one who is from out of town and now owes me big time for it. I will give you a little background on this one as well. I went to Darkness day and therefore got to try this one on tap as well as a barrel aged version. I will say that I liked the regular ‘on-tap’ version the best that day. After waiting 6 hours in the cold it was well worth the wait and the first sip was heavenly. I didn’t take any notes that day as I was busy enjoying myself but I opened this bottle about a week later so I got to take some notes, I was interested to see how this matched up to the tap version and the fact that it was pretty fresh in the bottle at that point.

Darkness, what a great name for a beer of this magnitude. It poured out black, not much else. Dark and thick and black-hole like, not much light got away from this one. A very nice mocha-tan head rose up from the brew and stuck around perfectly. Couldn’t ask for a better looking RIS. Dark as night, darkness like Wesley Snipes.

The smell was good, raisins, dark fruits and some alcohol drifted up at me. The roasted grains had some play in there but it was a mostly sweet dominated smell.

The taste was thick, chewy, big. Think of a meal in a bottle and this one is the 3 course version of it. Syrupy with the big sweetness from the aroma translating into a sweet taste as well. Raisins, plumbs, and lots of chocolate came out at me. Once again a very light booze taste comes out at me. Its hard to mask a beer the clocks in at 8% so I would say they did a pretty darn good job seeing as how they were working with over 10% with this one. For some reason I also picked up a taste that reminded me of plastic. Don’t know why or where it came from but I detected it a couple times.

I think overall this is going to get much better after a while in the bottle so the flavors can mellow out and blend together. I liked the tap version better than the early bottle version but I think with some age this will be exceptional in the bottle as well. Still a great RIS and not a whole lot to complain about, maybe only having 6 bottles instead of 60, but I think I made out pretty well. And with all those bottles I will get to see how it ages here for the next couple of years…stay tuned for that.


Final Grade: A+

2 Responses to “Brew Review: Surly Darkness 2011 (10-28-2011)”


  1. Brew Review: Bourbon Barrel Stout « Average Bro's Brew Review - October 2, 2012

    […] taste on first ruling was well balanced.  The brew was thick, although not quite like a Darkness or Plead the 5th, which was pleasant but, I was left wanting a bit more in terms of body.  The […]

  2. Brew Review: Blaecorn Unidragon « Average Bro's Brew Review - October 12, 2012

    […] RIS is not as ‘big’ as others (Darkness) but it really didn’t fall short of anything either.  I liked the roast aspect a lot.  There […]

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