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RATINGS: 978   WEIGHTED AVG: 4.21   SEASONAL: Winter   IBU: 85   EST. CALORIES: 288   ABV: 9.6%
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This massive Russian Imperial Stout brings waves of flavors; chocolate, cherries, raisins, coffee, and toffee. We add a touch of hops to make this delicious brew even tastier. 85 IBUs. Labels:

’07 = Grim Reaper
’08 = Devil
’09 = Mummy
’10 = Vampire
’11 = Zombie
’12 = Werewolf
’13 = Hell Demon
’14 = Harpy (bottled reviews have separate entry in database)

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
EddieB23 (1) - St. Paul, Minnesota, USA - OCT 27, 2008 does not count
Beautifully balanced and drinkable. Just the right amount of hops come through to ease the huge malt taste. Glad I waited in line for this one

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
EHopper (620) - Minnesota, USA - OCT 26, 2008
I have always liked dark, complex beers. A 30 year love affair. Ten months ago, I discovered, quite by accident, Ratebeer. Since that time I have reacquainted myself with quite a few brews from my past, and have had the pleasure tasting quite a few new that I learned of through Ratebeer. Now, after standing in line with my son and his friend for 2.5 hours Saturday, I have had the opportunity to taste what undoubtedly is the best beer I have ever had the pleasure to experience. It somehow manages to have a monster flavor, rich in malt and dark fruit, chocolate and rich, smooth coffee, and a wonderful, mystical undercurrent of hops, without any one character up staging the other. I am thrilled that I have five more bottles to share with others.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
BeerBunker (906) - Burbank, Illinois, USA - OCT 26, 2008
Poured black with a large brown head. Huge aroma of roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, raisins, and vanilla. Taste is of roasted malts, burnt fruit, chocolate, oatmeal, and coffee. The huge malt taste is balanced out by a sharp hop bite. Very thick and sticky mouthfeel. The alcohol is not apparent in the taste. This is a huge beer, but highly drinkable. Definitely worth the hype.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
nqualls (1452) - Nashville, Tennessee, USA - OCT 25, 2008
UPDATED: JAN 25, 2009 2008 Bottle. Poured an obsidian black with a two finger brown head. Aroma of roasted malt, burned sugar, bitter chocolate and some coffee, with a huge hop profile in the nose. Flavor is very complex. Flavor of sweet malt, dark fruit with a dry hop finish. Well balanced and the alcohol is not dominating. Great beer, but not as good as some others I’ve had. This was kind of like a combination of an IPA and an Imperial Stout.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Syd (921) - Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - OCT 25, 2008
UPDATED: NOV 1, 2013 Bottle from 2008 batch pours dark with a monster tan head that clings leaving lots of lace. The aroma is chocolate, malt, roasted sugar, and pretty decent hops. The flavor is sweet, fruity, chocolaty, lots of dark dried fruit, prunes, with a perfectly balanced hop profile to make it all work together in an amazing way. There is a lot of flavor and complexity, but it never tilts or leans out of balance in any particular direction. It works and works well. The palate is smooth, yet not as rich as with other monster brews that are sometimes too much. This however, is a drinkable palate without becoming too much like a milk shake. The carbonation is there, manifested in micro sized bubbles. The alcohol is not in the flavor. Overall, this lives up to the anticipation. I’ve waited a long time to try this. It is worth the hype. Surly Darkness 2013. This is an Imperial Stout extraordinaire. The pour into a tulip is black, with just barely deep red hues around the edges in intense back light. A massive head forms that takes a while to diminish to a surface mat of foam. The aroma hits with dark dried fruit, citrus hops, coffee, chocolate, and sour cherry. The flavor is sweet, milk chocolate, cherries, hints of some citrus, and so well balanced. The mouth feel is velvet smooth with a bit of cleansing hop finish. This is the Imperial Stout that sets the standard. Truly perfect this year.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 20/20
DalzAle (2009) - Eden Prairie, Minnesota, USA - OCT 20, 2008
On tap at the brewery September 12th 2008. Beer pours almost black in color. Chocolate and coffee flavors were apparent. Very surprised that the alcohol flavor was barely noticeable considering the 10% ABV. Like drinking liquid velvet

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
FlacoAlto (3838) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - OCT 14, 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.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
beastiefan2k (2808) - Emerald City (formely NYC & KS), Washington, USA - OCT 13, 2008
UPDATED: OCT 27, 2009 Graciously shared by jtrockchalk from BA, thanks. 2007 bottle with almost a year on it. Believe it or not it poured a black color. Aroma is chocolate-y with some light dark fruits. Taste is some hops breaking through, but they are dead in life. Its not a fresh bottle so the hop character comes off out of place. A bit of light coffee as well. Mouthfeel was a bit too thin for such a big beer. Basically nothing stands out much, the hops have grown weak and are out of place. Too light and no surprise that is just so overrated. 7/4/7/3/15

Had a 2008 bottle, shared by theisti at Indra’s Strong Ale tasting. Much fresher and I liked this a bit more. Had a thicker overall presence, which muted and balanced the hops better. Similarly, added to the mouthfeel. I don’t know, just less hops and more stout, so that was better. 7/4/7/4/16

2009 bottle, drank super fresh. Black body that pours with a beautiful thick brown, large head. It fades slowly and leaves a sticky lacing. To start, I thought I would hate this b/c it got hoppy but I was wrong. The aroma is hoppy, which come off as fruity and earthy. The hops work well with a cool malt bill which comes off with buckwheat and I love this aspect. This comes out in the flavor as well and the hops linger on the back end with some bitter and citrus kick. The hops and the cool malt bill work well together. This is the best version of Darkness I have tried. 8/5/8/3/17

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
csbosox (1229) - Prairie Village, Kansas, USA - OCT 7, 2008
Cask @ GTMW ’08 (I must have had 4 glasses of this) Aroma is wonderful hops and roast. Thick bodied, very smooth. Taste is sweet malt, roast, and wonderfully spicy hops. A nice finish.

A beauty on cask.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Bockyhorsey (2610) - Mesa, Arizona, USA - OCT 6, 2008
Sampled @ Tucson Gathering courtesy of cbkschubert bottle #172. Oatmeal aroma on the nose. Black body with tan head. Thick creamy body texture with chocolate and oatmeal flavor present. Good thick stout. Thanks Craig.

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