ARH (1113) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - JAN 13, 2016
4.1 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
2015 vintage, 22oz bottle poured into a snifter. The aroma is a strong, sweet cherry and raisin combination with a slight leather and toffee undertone. As it warms, aromas of chocolate, candy citrus, and wood ash emerge. It pours an opaque caramel brown, topped by a dense brown, soft foam head that has light retention and sparse and dense - although a bit runny - even, sheet lace. The taste is highly sweet with a medium high bitter that strengthens late. The texture is just short of chewy, made smooth by a soft, fizz carbonation. The full body is flavored with a cherry, raisin, chocolate, and light smoke and leather character. The finish has a smokiness and a clean pin zip; first flavored y a sweet raisin and cola flourish with a smokey background and is subtly replaced by a stong, dry pine and dark coffee with bitter licorice after a brief time. The aftertaste has a cloying candy quality, then a dry, lightly astringent, chalky cleanliness with notes of smoke, pine / grass, coffee, and a toffee character that sneaks in late.
Kbierle (1) - - JAN 1, 2016 does not count
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 18/20
2015/2014 darkness side by side comparison
Both poured in surly tulip shaped glasses purchased from the brewery. One taster did not know which was which. 2014 cellared in our basement cellar with temps that range between 50-65 degrees seasonally throughout the year.
Both inky black in color. Thin lacy head on the 2014. The 2015 had better head retention - medium with fair amount of lacing. Both were a creamy tan color.
2014 lots of dark fruits, cherry, raisin, dark chocolate overlay. Toffee and caramel.
2015 malty, coffee notes. Bourbon vanilla
2014 starts how it smells with the chocolate covered cherries. Develops in the mouth and more of a mocha. Booziness and coffee notes come out more as the beer warms. Lingering (long) mocha, chocolate finish. Big body and chewy mouthfeel.
2015: caramel and vanilla hit the palate first. Roasted malts, a slightly bitter dark chocolate hit next. Body is more medium. Does not have the booziness feel like the 2014 (is that from cellaring? Will compare next year). Medium to long finish with the vanilla coffee notes.
2014 is a fantastic example of a big bold boozy Russian imperial stout. Hard to find any fault in it. 4.75/5.
2015 is a good beer in its own right but next to the 2014 falls slightly short. Palate significantly different without the fruity flavors. Don’t know how much added complexity is due to a year in the cellar, but for drinking now about 4.25/5
We have a 2015 bourbon barrel aged darkness too that we have not yet opened. Excited to see what notes the bourbon barrel adds to the beer.
Nsanders (987) - St Paul, Minnesota, USA - DEC 21, 2015
4 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
2015 Darkness on tap at Blue Door Pub. Black with no head. Chocolate milk, Hershey bars, light leather, light coffee and prune. Has a strong milk chocolate sweetness with a faint dry flavor. Heavier body with a smooth, creamy feel.
saltyseadog (33) - Des Moines, Iowa, USA - DEC 13, 2015
4.8 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
AROMA Expensive old fashioned sweets. Caramel, vanilla, toffee, butterscotch, chocolate fudge. Smells very sweet.
APPEARANCE Slightly spotty head with a nice caramel color and a thin head that burns away fast and just clings to the glass in a nice silky ribbon.
TASTE Malty, chocolatey, a little roasty with a touch of bitterness. The alcohol burn arrives fashionably late just as the last roasty notes are fading. Great balance among all the different flavor elements. Not actually as sweet as it smells.
PALATE Full bodied, thick and creamy, just enough carbonation to keep it from being heavy or syrupy. Nice long finish with a slow evolution of flavors that invites contemplation.
OVERALL One of the most expensive beers I’ve ever bought. Fantastic even at $20/bottle. Lots of flavor complexity that changes and evolves as you work your way through the bottle. A nice long finish. Not as roasty or bitter as the name implies, or as sweet as the smell test suggests. Easy and pleasurable to drink. Pairs as well with beef jerky as it does with champignon brie. Hats off to Surly’s brewmasters. You’ve got a real winner here.
johnnymusky (874) - Minnesota, USA - DEC 12, 2015
4 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Waited to years to try this one...well worth it...nose was less than expected...not much to it...mouth the usual dark fruits,toffee,coffee and chocolate mix....really nicely done...awesome beer
gregwilsonstl (2061) - St. Louis, Missouri, USA - DEC 12, 2015
4.3 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
2013 vintage. Dark black. Starts off hoppy. Somewhat tart in the middle. Very dynamic. Not boozy at all. Tasted at tims bottle share.
Savage_Night (414) - California, USA - DEC 10, 2015
4.5 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 19/20
Pours black with a medium brown head. Head retention is good. Lacing is minimal. AROMA: dark rich roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, rasins, roasty, earthy, alcohol, toffee, herbal hops, soy sauce, spices, smoke/charcoal, woody, cherries/raspberries, vanilla, herbs, molasses, brown sugar, floral and dark stone fruit. TASTE: dark rich roasted malt, chocolate, coffee oil bitterness, rasins, spices, roasty, earthy, alcohol, toffee, soy sauce, smoke/charcoal, herbal hop spice, woody, slight tart cherries, vanilla, herbs, molasses, brown sugar, floral and dark stone fruit. AFTER TASTE: dark rich roasted malt, chocolate, rasins, spices and coffee bitterness with a rich boozy finish.
Sarlacc83 (1861) - Portland, Oregon, USA - NOV 29, 2015
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Bottle. Thanks to MadVike for this RateBeer freebie! A: Pours a thick black oil with a firm mocha head. Lacing.N: Milk chocolate, vanilla, malt balls, some oxidation, molasses, burnt brown sugar, black licorice, anise. Light peppercorn and earth.T: Quite sweet, some bitterness.M: Oily thick body with light carbonation.O: Potent RIS but well balanced. Hits all the marks and remains drinkable.
hfmejias (1266) - Marshall, Minnesota, USA - NOV 28, 2015
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
On tap at the brewery (2015). Dark, ink like black, brown head (small), moderate lacing. Aroma of malts and caramel combined with fruit. Taste is similar but quite complex; caramel, chocolate, booze, and dark fruit. Delicious beer, extremely enjoyable.
NachlamSie (3247) - Denver, Colorado, USA - NOV 27, 2015
4.3 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Big bottle. I wasn’t expecting this to be so hoppy. This black beer has very distinct citrusy hop notes. Well rounded chocolate and coffee are here. This is not super astringent, considering the color. Good ,sweet, chocolatey notes are balanced by bitterness. The palate is very full. I thought this was just a hyped-up beer before I drank it. Turns out it’s one of the best stouts I’ve had in a long time.