Tuesday, March 02, 2010


If that title’s a little off-putting, check this out and you’ll see why I had to appropriate it. So here we are. SURLY DARKNESS. The 18th finest beer in the land. You know, every time we drink one of these over-hyped beers I’m in total anticipation at the first sip. Is this going to be an OMG OMG OMG mother of all beers, a la BROOKLYN BLACK OPS or THE ABYSS? Or will it give me a much-needed chance to post a jaded, curmudgeonly review about overhyped beers, a la PLINY THE YOUNGER or DREADNAUGHT IPA? That’s just one dimension of the anticipation, my friends. Then there’s – oh yeah right – the taste & enjoyment of the beer itself. Who could forget about that part of the experience? Let’s get to it, shall we?

SURLY BREWING came to my attention thanks to their punk-rock vibe & brewers all ratted out in tattoos, along with a lot of early excitement about the beer itself. Radical. Aaron from The Captain’s Chair was kind enough to send me SURLY FURIOUS, which totally knocked me for a loop, and the big boy, SURLY DARKNESS. Darkness doesn’t pull any punches, even out of the gate, featuring a member of recently-reunited garage punk band The Mummies on the bottle itself. It pours jet black with a beautiful head of coffee foam, and smells of barely-filtered coffee, some earthiness, and alcohol. 10.3% of this is alcohol, so that adds up. Then you get into it, and like a lot of these intense imperial stouts, it’s roasted, bitter chocolate and hops all the way.

Only a few sips in and I realized that despite the ingenuity that went into this one & the large, aggressive roastiness (which I often love), its filmy texture and chalky mélange of flavors would prevent it from being one of the greats. I drank the whole thing, looking for things that I'd love, and only found things that I liked. Say you removed any limited-edition, once-a-year whatsis, and conveniently forgot that people stand in long, freezing lines to buy this beer, and instead got a nice 10-ounce pour in a fancy-pants glass? You’d say, “thanks, that was real nice, now how about a different beer – maybe a blueberry pale ale or a goddamn ice water with lemon?”. I’m totally glad I tried this, I’m a better and more complete man for it, but I can’t in all due justice go with anything greater than a 6.5/10.

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