MI2CA (1340) - Noblesville, Indiana, USA - SEP 6, 2009
Thanks Tom for cracking this beauty at the end of the night - 2008 bottle - Aroma is complex with dark roasted malts, tons of chocolate and a fruity finish. Flavor is cherry and raisin quickly overcome by an onslaught of coffee and chocolate and closed out with a nice amount of bitter hops. Palate is creamy and dry. A fantastic brew worthy of the hype. gkost (1069) - Alaska, USA - SEP 3, 2009
UPDATED: JAN 3, 2010 Pours black with a thin head. Grassy, boozey, sugary mollasses, floral hoppy, hints of citrus mess. Flavor is fudgey, cloying sweet, worty, bitter hops, cocoa, chocolate sauce vanilla and prune. Sickeningly sweet, under attenuated mess of a beer. Big miss on such a hyped beer. Sonicdescent (384) - Donora, Pennsylvania, USA - AUG 23, 2009
2008 vintage, the coolest looking bottle I have seen that wasn’t Gratitude.
Pour is just perfect, black and thick as used motor oil with a thick tan head. Not a highlight in sight.
Scent is of strong sweet molasses over chocolate and an earthy aroma. Dark fruit is present as well.
Taste is incredibly sweet. Lactose, molasses, bitter chocolate. It’s like nestle quick that wasn’t stirred enough, and that’s a good thing. This reminds me more of a milk stout than your typical ris.
Mouth is full and creamy, as thick as it looks. Low carbonation. Just perfect.
I know I may never have this again, but damn I hope I do. Well worthy of it’s status and hype. Amazing beer. If this is the crappy vintage, I don’t think I could handle a good one
For fear of nothing else coming close. madvike (3260) - Middleton, Wisconsin, USA - AUG 21, 2009
UPDATED: OCT 24, 2011 Sampled @ GTMW ’09 - The first sample of the day, so I had a nice, fresh palate. Darkness pours, well dark. There’s a frothy brown head, but you’re not seeing through this sucker. The smell is sweet and syrupy, which is what I usually like in an IS. There’s toffee, raisins, and bourbon. Taste is more of the same--sweet, deep flavors with a minimum of roast and a nice hop finish. It’s thick and smooth, and makes me wish I had a bottle of this stuff. Wasn’t sure if the hype was justified, but now I’ve circled next Darkness Day on my calendar and saving my money for a 6-bottle allotment.
Re-rate 11/28/09 - Got my 6 bottles, but sampled from a buddies’ bottle. Same notes as before, but the 2009 vintage has wonderful waves of hops on the nose and in the taste. Adds a layer of complexity that I dig, and separates it from some of the other impys I’ve had. Bumped it up for palate, too, since the larger sample was wonderfully smooth and mouth-coating. About as good as it gets.
Re-rate 10/24/11 - Holy crap has my palate changed. The ’11 vintage is fairly close the ’08 that I loved initially, and I couldn’t even finish my pour. Too sweet, sticky, syrupy, and boozy. It’s just too...much. The hoppiness of the ’09 would still probably make this a pleasant beer for me, but not in mass quantities, and definitely not a 4.7. I don’t know what my favorite beer is these days, but it’s certainly not Darkness anymore. MrPickles (438) - Waunakee, Wisconsin, USA - AUG 13, 2009
UPDATED: OCT 25, 2009 Sampled at GTMW 2009, 2008 vintage, In fact it was our first beer of the day. I mean are you kidding me?! I get Surly Darkness as my first beer of the day. There really must be a God and he must of helped Surly with this beer. Pours dark and thick with tan head. Again It looks absolutely amazing, but that was no surprise. Aroma is a chocolate, roasted malts and a bit of subtle fruit. The taste is very smooth and almost creamy. Taste is very much the same, just fantastic. I agree that some people rate a beer higher, just because it everyone else says it is good. This beer is GREAT no matter what anyone else says. If you can get it do it, and then you will be sad you don’t have more.
SHANER4 (500) - Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA - AUG 10, 2009
On Tap Great Taste of Midwest - Poured black with thick brown head.
Aroma - chocolate syrup, coffee and some dark fruits
Flavor - alot of chocolate syrup taste along with toffee, coffee and some smoke.
Palate - thick oily mouthfeel with good carbonation. Finish is bitter and lingers.
Overall - really good IS, it could use more hops but a definite winner!! redlight (2318) - Orlando, Florida, USA - AUG 10, 2009
UPDATED: AUG 23, 2009 08 bottle. Roasted malts, smokey, with molasses on the nose. Pours dark dark brown pretty much black with no head. Smooth dark fruits, roasted malts, slightly oily, with solid hop presence, some tobacco flavor, traces of smoke and oak in the flavor. Sean9689 (285) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - AUG 8, 2009
UPDATED: AUG 19, 2010 2008, 22oz black/gold wax-dipped bomber into snifter.
Split seven ways with some friends at FFF’s.
Poured a enough to make a nice review, but not pass out.
A - Jet black, coffee/cream colored head, sticky lacing along the side of the snifter. Pretty much similar to all other top-notch examples of this style.
S - Sweet chocolate, molasses, raisins. Smells so good I would like to eat this beer instead of drink. One whiff and I’m ready to dig in to my dessert! Nothing overly complex, but damn good nonetheless.
T - Chocolate cake with chocolate cream filling topped with chocolate sprinkles and chocolate syrup. In other words, lots of chocolate here! No real alcohol burn present and when compared to Dark Lord, almost zero (I realize DL is 13% though). Very sweet, no real hops/bitterness at all. It’s like drinking chocolate syrup (in a good way).
M - A little more thin then what I was expecting but oh-so smooth. It just covers your mouth in sweet goodness!
D - Very easy to drink for the style. I will revisit in another six months or so to see how it’s coming along. All in all, a great RIS, worthy of the rating and hype.
tanner0042 (13) - Minnesota, USA - JUL 31, 2009
pours dark black with tan head, good lacing. Thick and rich, creamy, very sweet, but in an excellent way. Lots of flavors collide, chocolate, vanilla. coffee. Make sure you take your time drinking this one. as the temp goes up the flavors get better. Gypsy19 (726) - California, USA - JUL 18, 2009
2008 bottle into snifter. Pours opaque black, as expected, with a small, light brown head that lingers for a moment, then fades to a light top layer of bubbles. Aroma has a lot of raisin, red wine scents, maybe a little citrus. What I didn’t expect was the sweet hop aroma. On the other hand, there’s not the usual coffee or chocolate on the nose. Flavor is initially sacchariny sweet, but after you get past that you can make out a lot of sweet fruit (cherry), dark gourmet chocolate, medium maltiness for the style, espresso oils. Alcohol is well hidden. I really have to emphasize that this is one sweet pancake syrup. And this is coming from one who likes huge, sugary impys and barleywines. But the sweetness in this one has even my ass kicked, otherwise it deserved a 10 in flavor because of complexity and richness. Mouthfeel is full and gooey like an impy should be. Overall, excellent plus.