Beer Review: SURLY DARKNESS 2017

Beer Review: SURLY DARKNESS 2017

Surly Darkness 2017 pours predictably jet black into the glass, creating a substantial tan foam head with impressive retention. Subsequent sips leave notable rings of lacing along the glass edge. The presentation is on point, setting the stage for what promises to be an epic imperial stout.


The aroma of Darkness is an intriguing blend, featuring waxy dark chocolate, black crayon, and the distinctive notes of oil-cured Beldi olives with a hint of saltwater and tar. This savory profile aligns well with the stout style, providing a complex olfactory experience that suggests a careful selection of ingredients.


As the flavor journey unfolds, Darkness takes us from a sweet introduction to a rich, silky mid-palate, accompanied by a moderate bitterness. The dominance of brined black olive and waxy dark chocolate persists, creating a unique taste profile. The semi-sweet finish is well-balanced, devoid of lingering sugar or alcohol aftertaste. Despite initial reservations about additional sugar, the end result is a surprisingly drinkable and smooth experience, possibly attributed to the inclusion of oats.


Darkness earns praise from a panel of discerning beer enthusiasts who note its smooth and creamy mouthfeel. It avoids the pitfalls of excessive heaviness and sweetness, showcasing a careful balance. The addition of oats contributes to an overall silkiness that enhances the drinking experience. However, there is room for improvement, particularly for those who appreciate a more pronounced bitterness in their imperial stouts.


Surly Darkness 2017, an annual release since 2007, lives up to its reputation as an epic imperial stout. The consistency in quality is evident, with each vintage featuring a unique label design from a local artist. Despite a few constants in the recipe, including oats and sugar, the beer maintains a reasonable alcohol content, hovering around 10-12%. While some may appreciate the surprising drinkability and smoothness, others might long for a more intense bitterness, akin to benchmarks like Bell’s Expedition. A blind tasting with fellow beer aficionados yielded unanimous praise for its smooth and creamy qualities, making it a worthy indulgence, whether shared at a special tasting or savored alone.

In conclusion, Surly Darkness 2017 is a commendable addition to the craft beer world, offering a well-crafted and complex experience that will undoubtedly please a broad spectrum of enthusiasts.