arjoseph (639) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - DEC 4, 2007
3.8 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 15/20
GABF 2007. Maybe the stuff they brought to the fest wasnít the best (Ernestís and TARís ratings seem to be quite a bit lower, like mine, so maybe this is it). Or maybe this is much better bottled than on tap. If there is no excuse, though, Iíd have to say that this is the most overrated beer Iíve seen on the site, ever. Iíd like to try a bottle, just to reevaluate, because I had many samples, and could not convince myself that this was even Top-100, much less Top-10. Large, dark oatmeal head. Alcohol and slightly burnt toffee sweetness on the nose. Thick and full in the mouth. First Impressions: Roasty up front, with a nice grain presence in the finish. Creamy texture. Digging Deeper: Thereís something herbal and medicinal in the middle that I donít like. Hops become aparent on the smell. Thereís a distinct and not very pleasant alcohol burn in the finish after a middle of rum chocolate (but slight; if the rum chocolate flavors were more pronounced, Iíd be willing to give the beer a break on the alcohol). Overall: seems like a much lesser version of Dark Lord. Itís trying to be that huge, impressive, over-the-top experience, but it isnít over-the-top enough. Dark Lordís size can mask some of its deficiencies. Here, though, youíre left with an imperial stout that is devoid of impressive qualities (at least in a good way). It doesnít have the distinct, developed, full flavors that the best do, nor does it commit to the Dark Lord beat-your-senses-into-submission awesomeness either. Not at all a bad beer, but come on.
Ernest (6161) - Boulder, Colorado, USA - DEC 1, 2007
3.2 AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 6/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 12/20
Multiple samples, GABF 2007. Head is mostly lasting. Body is dark brown to black. Aroma is moderately malty (roasted grain, chocolate), moderately to heavily hoppy (resin, grapefruit), with notes of plastic and ash. Flavor is heavily sweet, lightly to moderately acidic, lightly bitter. Finish is moderately sweet, lightly to moderately acidic, moderately bitter. Medium to full body, creamy texture, lively carbonation, moderately astringent. Quite a mess in most ways...a real hop overload with some seemingly off notes. Rather acidic in the mouth, but creamy. Mixed bag and very cluttered, but ok.
barleyandmalt (25) - USA - NOV 30, 2007
4.5 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 19/20
Draft at cafe 28 in Minneapolis. A dull black with opulent bubbles in the toasted-wheat-bread-head. Nose of figs, slight molasses, black fruits, chocolate, even some tropical, AND the first beer that has ever had the aroma of dried marijuana (not misinterpreted). Not as much yeast characters in the nose as I would like for a stout of this complexity. Body was not thin, not heavy as many Impystouts tend, but really well balanced. Acid bite matched the flavor profiles. As it warmed, enjoyment of the full complexity but balance of this beer came through. Really Really well done, Surly!
TAR (2445) - Lafayette, Colorado, USA - NOV 28, 2007
3.5 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
Draft @ GABF Ė numerous samples: Penetrable black with maple-brown edges. Poorly retained light-beige head. Decent but uninteresting aroma consists of grapefruit, ink, black licorice, tar, burnt custard and smoky char. Loose prickles of hard carbonation. Seductively viscous body. Astringently rubbery and sharply charred, yet somewhat juicy and explosive beneath, with grapefruit and mango intermingling with a gooey fudge undertow. High concentration of hop-derived sappiness virtually seals the lips. Roast is pungently smoky and quite earthy. Tar-soaked grapefruit and peach continually prevail over the crisp malts, but are aided by dabs of ink and licorice which add to the chewiness. Solid malt core is enormous and saturated with charcoal, plummy esters and hop oils, but sorely lacks complementary malt softness. Oily java coincides with chocolate pudding, fudge cake and bitter black chocolate. Crunchy char continues its relentless assault on the palate and somewhat compensates for the overly tacky residuals which line the finish. Forceful char perpetually lingers alongside the equally potent hop acids and ink-soaked citrus medley. Extensive dry-hopping yields a flavorsome assortment of citric hop burps. Although the robust char makes the oppressive resins tolerable, I still find this to be far too resinous and acidic for me. Yeast character is also boring and slightly unclean. Malts are well-structured, though.
ajm (1065) - Los Angeles, California, USA - NOV 25, 2007
4.7 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
UPDATED: DEC 11, 2008 Tap at the Map, Nov 07. I donít know if Iíve ever given a 10 for flavor. This absolutely qualifies and hereís why: the vastness of Dark Lord with the drinkability of something drinkable. I was floored. I still am. This is a beer for the ages.
oakbluff (413) - Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA - NOV 24, 2007
4.7 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
On tap at Blue Nile, and followed up at Stub & Herbís following day. Presented in both cases in a goblet (Blue Nile being a really nice Surly goblet). Great looking beer- black as night as expected with a chocolate milk head. Nose is heaven- spicy roasty chocolate. Taste- waves of flavours- all the usual suspects in a great imperial stout- dark roasted coffee, dark and milk chocolate, hazlenuts; plus a wallop of hop bitterness. The hops were really well done, and I think Iím lucky to have tried this fresh while the hops are still battling out with the malts. Adds a really nice dimension to the beer. The pineyness of the hops plays well with the decadent desert of the malts. Very smooth mouthfeel and absolutely no booze heat. Damn fine. If I didnít have these at the start of my drinking day, I could have had many but stopped at two. I canít think of any other imperial stouts that Iíve enjoyed more. Iím very happy I could time my trip to Minni and get my lips on this sucker. well done Surly- you never let me down.
mreusch (851) - Olathe, Kansas, USA - NOV 20, 2007
4.5 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
Tap @ Cafe Twenty Eight. Looks like I have the honor of providing the 100th rating, which seems fitting considering I drove 7 hours this morning, (with another 7 hour drive back home tonight) just for the chance to try this beer!
Idiot? Yes. Obsessive? Yes. Worth it? Well, letís find out.
Pour is dark black, with a full, creamy dark brown head that lingers and maintains a thinner, yet complete cap throughout; lacing is thick and almost solid all the way down the glass. Aroma is packed with cocoa, bittersweet chocolate, molasses, vanilla, espresso, brown sugar, and some light citrus/pine hops present. Not overpowering, but still roasty, decadent and captivating. Flavor brings out a surprising amount of hops bitterness, which intermingles well with more bittersweet chocolate, espresso, molasses, and vanilla. Everything comes together very nicely, centered around the hops. Palate is full, smooth and creamy, good coating, with a lasting but mild hoppy bittersweet finish. Overall, this is a fantastic beer, albeit ever so slightly rough around the edges. I can only imagine a more blended, well rounded experience if this would be aged a bit to tame the hops some, but stellar none the less.
marchcow (664) - Coralville, Iowa, USA - NOV 19, 2007
4.7 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
On tap at Cafe 28 in Minneapolis. Served at a cool temperature in proper glassware. Aroma is dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, mild hops, and cream cheese. Dark brownish black with a thick foamy head of good durations and excellent lacing. Flavor is very rich but even. Good flavor changes in the initial sip, pops back and forth between sweet and bitter, woody and cheesy. Chocolate, cream cheese, caramelized sugar, cream, mild oaken flavors, and bourbon. Flavor is complex enough. Alcohol is not noticable. Palate is rich and creamy but not syrupy. Pleasant chocolate duration. Good combination of sweet and bitter with a slight dryness on the finish. Excellent and well balanced. Only weakness is that the aroma could be more potent. This is one creamy beer. Very very good.
Driftwood6 (214) - USA - NOV 18, 2007
4.5 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
UPDATED: MAR 10, 2008 Tap at Small Bar- Division, Chicago (thanks to pantanap). What a wonderful stout. Has the smoothness of Founderís Breakfast stout with maybe a little more complexity-- especially in the aftertaste. Not quite as in-your-face and thick as Dark Lord 07. Nice thick mouthfeel-- but not too thick. Could drink this all afternoon as a session beer (and almost did). Really impressed with the lingering aftertaste-- something to almost chew on after the beer is already down the hatch.
WisconsinBeer (704) - St. Paul, Minnesota, USA - NOV 18, 2007
4.8 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
UPDATED: OCT 27, 2009 2007 bottle. (Fresh) Dark coffee color, minimal head. Sweet nutty aroma. Big thick body, but not heavy. Oh so smooth and creamy. Smoked nuts, iced coffee, dark chocolate. Deep full roasted malts. A bit of hops on the back end, but the malts really take over on this one. Well worth the hype. Seems that many locales are already out of this beer, so get it while it lasts!