mar (4960) - Dallas, Texas, USA - DEC 7, 2008
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
2008 bottle thanks to bman113vr. deep black pour with a thin espresso head. hops, soy, roasted malts and chocolate. smooth on the palate with a very well balanced flavor of roasted malts and hops. finish is mostly hops and chocolate.
PrinceofNessus (236) - Norman, Oklahoma, USA - DEC 6, 2008
4.6 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 19/20
Strong smell of alcohol and fruit, but the taste belies the aroma. The appearance is dark brown with a beige head. the taste is fruity at first, dark fruitiness, plum and hops. Very smooth with a finish of hops and bitterness. Appreciated.
tmoreau (2578) - Lombard, Illinois, USA - DEC 6, 2008
4.3 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: APR 3, 2014 Sampled repeatedly at the Bavarian Lodge Surly release party, but most recently, at a secret stash release by Lunar Brewing. Snifter served with a thick, dark, black/brown hue, and a foamy, tan head and mild lacing. Aroma is of molasses, brown sugar, and caramel. The mouth feel is creamy and the texture is syrupy, with flavors of dark fruit, sweet maltiness,decent hop bitterness, and port wine. Chocolate and coffee notes are subdued by the alcohol, which is omnipresent and warming. Most recently enjoyed on tap at Warren’s Ale House in Wheaton, IL. for a Surly gathering, highlighting the Darkness. Full bodied, very warming, with strong cocoa notes, and big bitterness that was smoothed somewhat by the thick texture & fullness. Lacing had good cling, and there was more dryness to the finish this time. +.1
bconley (352) - Fern Park, Florida, USA - NOV 30, 2008
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 16/20
Bomber at Redlight....Brent’s the MAN! This is bad ass! Pours black...oh yeah. Very thick...has a velvety, milky consistency. Has notes of fig and raisins. The roasty malts, coffee, and chocolate is sooo great. I might venture to say "chocolate awesome coffeeness" which was my first reaction to tasting the beautiful beer. You should definitely try to get some of this...DO IT!!!!
Beerlando (3342) - Orlando, Florida, USA - NOV 30, 2008
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
2008 vintage, courtesy Redlight. Big thanks Brent! Pours an inky, deep, dark mahogany to virtually black color. A dense, compact head of coffee colored foam crowns the surface, thick cobweb lacing marking the glass well. Expecting a roasty hop bomb of a RIS, I was surprised by the sweet, chocolaty, heavily fruited aroma. Notes of stewed figs and prunes show strong, as do creamy oats and heaps of bittersweet chocolate. Earthy, spicy hops do show, but not as intensely as has been described in so many previous ratings. Flavors, too, are quite sweet. Semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolates blend well with the stewed mash of figs, prunes, raisins and cherries. Earthy hops offer an attempt at balance, but ultimately fall short, while rolled oats serve to unite contrasting elements. Medium-full on the palate and moderately carbonated, I would like just a touch more body, less sugar, and more roast. Is this a great beer? By all means. Is it as good as Dark Lord, Expedition, or even Stone RIS? Not in my opinion.
beerinmarch (2830) - Washington, USA - NOV 30, 2008
4.3 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
Bottle at the Hair of the Dog dock sale. This beer had a ton of hype to live up to, and it was every bit as good as I was hoping for. Pitch black with a smooth brown head. Creamy mouthfeel emphasizing the sweet chocolate character. Hints of port and cherry show. The hops were still pretty strong, but they will settle as this ages.
Sparky (2243) - Phoenix, Arizona, USA - NOV 29, 2008
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Rating #700. Bottles courtesy of StFun and Guerde – thanks guys! Pours a crude oil black with a 2 finger mocha head and great lacing. Nose is chocolate, roasted malt, coffee and hops. Taste is sweet citrus hops, milk chocolate, molasses, caramelized brown sugar, salted prunes and light coffee with some resin in the finish. A lot more hops than I expected, and a little on the sweet side which was also a surprise. Medium, creamy mouth feel. Sweetness tones down a lot as it warms. Very good. Thanks again guys!
MegaMan2OO6 (21) - Los Gatos, California, USA - NOV 28, 2008
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 13/20
(11.18.08) On tap @ Firkin. Black pour with a small beige head. Aroma is almost all hops - if I had my eyes closed, I might confuse this for an Imperial IPA. Coffee and licorice also there in the nose, but a bit overwhelmed by the hops for me. Great palate, chewy RIS feel. Flavor is all over the place - hops, chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, port - there’s a lot going on here, and not necessarily in a good way. I have to admit that this beer succeeds in look and feel, but the nose and flavor are hard to place within the style.
sbroome (149) - Burnsville, Minnesota, USA - NOV 28, 2008
4.7 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
UPDATED: MAR 10, 2010 Thanks to the fantastic Cafe Twenty Eight for this fabulous rarity stll on tap... the famed Surly Darkness, in all it’s 8 oz. glory. Oily black appearance with a medium brown, frothy tan head. Smell’s sweet, almost candy-like. Mouth-feel is heavy and thick. First taste is sweet molasses and/or candy sugar. Definate roasty, complex and delicious. Afterwards, you taste the grapefruit and floral hops, although it’s disquised well. I tried the 2007 last year and definately enjoy the 2008 much more. Surly, perhaps it’s time to start bottling this gem of a beer on a regular basis.
ChainGangGuy (4423) - Marietta, Georgia, USA - NOV 28, 2008
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Appearance: Pours an inky black body with a large, frothy, light tan head.
Smell: Roasty, burnt malt nose with strong notes of dark chocolate liqueur, coffee, smoky creosote, and pine needles.
Taste: Roasty, dark, chocolaty maltiness displays both depth and richness. A few spoonfuls of frothed cream pairs with a flavor of strong coffee. Bracing amount of sweetness present. Vinous fruity character. Touch of creosote. Strong pine and citrus hoppiness though not unreasonably so. The bitterness makes a decent attempt, but, for me, it doesn’t ever even begin to overtake the malt sweetness. Darkness finishes with a strapping roastiness and more unyielding sweetness.
Mouthfeel: Decidedly full-bodied with a creamy mouthfeel. Medium carbonation.
Drinkability: Excellent melding of full flavors wrapped up in a dense, creamy body. I wasn’t disappointed. Nice work, Surly.