Surly Darkness is a Russian Imperial Stout. Limited annual release. This review is for the 2012 vintage aged about 2 years and 4 months. I have never had this fresh and have been holding onto this (and a 2013) that I got in a trade for the right time. I will have to make some assumptions as to what it was like fresh.
This is a super… well, dark beer. It looks just as a RIS should, black color, some caramel color around the edges and a nice off white/tan head. The aroma is very interesting, lots of cherry like fruitiness and almost a sherry wine like thing going on as well. A little chocolate and vanilla round things out just a bit. The first thing I notice on my first sip is the mouth-feel. This beer is slick but also has this unique density to it, almost like drinking a chocolate mouse maybe. Very enjoyable. The taste is rich and sweet, really bordering on sickly sweet. I am glad I shared this with Lee & Raymond, it is almost impossible to fathom drinking this 22oz bottle by myself! More cherry flavor in the taste, with strong notes of currants and raisins, some chocolate and a flavor bordering on soy sauce. I’m not sure if the age brought the soy on, or if it has aged more of it away. There is very little of the tell tale alcohol flavor you expect from this kind of stout, another possible result of it’s time in the cellar.
This beer has become a perfect sweet sipper at this point. Insanely complex and decadent, I have zero regrets trading for this hard to acquire beer.