Friday, November 11, 2011

Surly Brewing's Darkness: Review

Think of something, it could be any genre, that you find to be "perfect".  Perfection demands a certain economy.  There has to be just enough of one element, not too much of another, the elements must blend together relatively harmoniously, a synergy must be created in that all the elements need to create a greater whole.  Think Kind of Blue or Coltrane's Giant Steps.  Think Goodfellas.   Think Les Miserables.  Think Catherine Zeta-Jones in Intolerable Cruelty when she wasn't actually talking.  That's the Surly Darkness experience. 

I got to try the rarely seen Surly Darkness, Surly Brewing's Russian imperial stout, last night at a bar in Chicago you can probably figure out via the clues.  Hat tip to my buddy Dave for the heads up on the tasting.  I can't say a lot about Darkness because I'm convinced that I could never fully capture the experience.  It presents itself beautifully, oily black with a creamy light tan head with gorgeous pockets of bubbles starkly contrasting with the black pool beneath.  Delicious smells of baked bread, coffee, and roasted nuts emerge.  The body is dense and velvety, almost buttery, feeling somewhere in between a chocolate malted and a big Syrah. 

The taste is hard to describe because everything needed is in there and yet so fleeting.  Flavors such as roasted coffee, blackberry, smoke, almond, earth, and bitter cocoa dip in and out on the palate, one second there, the next, gone, overtaken by something else.  It finishes long and opulent. 

This is a beer I'd drive through several states to buy.  I'm given little choice otherwise because I understand that you can only buy it in its native Minnesota.  It's said to be released one day a year, just like Dark Lord Day.  Perhaps it's known as Darkness Day.  If both beers were released on the same day, all things equal I'd be in Minnesota embracing the Darkness.  That's no slight upon Dark Lord, a singular, exceptional beer.  Darkness is just that much better, or dare I say it, perfect.

At this point, Surly Darkness is the best stout I've ever tried. 

5 stars.

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