Thursday, October 8, 2009

Surly Darkness and Surly Wet

I've been looking forward to Surly's Darkness Day for quite awhile now so needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that they were tapping a firkin of it last Tuesday at the 501 Club in Minneapolis. I was able to somehow convince a couple buddies who are far from beer geeks to join me and after figuring out the logistics, all of us could enjoy as much Darkness as we could get our hands on and then move on to $2 Coffee Benders (that's like stealing) without having to worry about who was driving.

We got there about a half hour before the firkin was tapped and they gave me the look that made me wonder if I was worried about getting there early for no reason. After grabbing a Furious to sip while we were waiting and chatting with Omar Ansari for awhile we grabbed a table close to the bar to wait for the Darkness to be unleashed. As it got closer to eight bells, the bar area got fuller and fuller as other beer geeks poured in.

We each took a spot where we hoped to be noticed by the bartender and eventually got back to the table with 8 glasses of Darkness between the three of us. Here are my notes from it:
Appearance is that of...darkness. No head, sweet aroma with a soy sauce type of smell. Sweet, thick syrupy mouthfeel with little to no carbonation. Lots going on in the flavor with chocolate and coffee coming out the most for me. Nice smooth almost creamy finish.

To my surprise, my two friends (including Pat of Beer Club fame) also liked it. I didn't expect them to be big fans of such an aggressive beer knowing what they normally would choose. My main goal of course from this night was to finally get my taste buds on this insanely popular beer but I also to give it a taste to make sure I want to buy my six bottles of Darkness when the day comes (I do).

After finishing the night off with a couple Coffee Benders and a CynicAle, some very nice lady (I believe she said she was married to a Surly employee) gave me a kickass Surly T shirt on her way out of the bar. All in all, it was a good night.

I've been hearing plenty of buzz about the new IPA that Surly was working on lately, the Wet Hop, and I've been very antsy to try it. While imperial stouts like Darkness have been climbing my favorites chart, IPAs are still where my heart belongs. I ran into the brewery one night to buy a sweatshirt and they were in the process of brewing this and the place smelled like heaven.

I heard the first kegs were going to be unveiled at Roat Osha, a Thai restaurant the I've never heard of but it didn't matter, I wanted... nope, I needed to try this beer. So I convinced Allison to go there with me so I could give it a taste.

Turns out, it was damn good. The bar was crowded because of the beer and also the Twins game and I really wanted to try the food so we got a table and ate some amazing food while I sipped my beers. I was impressed at how well this beer went with spicy foods (I ordered mine a 5 out of 5 on the spice scale). Here are my notes:
Brownish red in color, not much head because of the pour. Very hoppy aroma, smelled a lot like tangerine to me. One of the best beers I’ve ever smelled. Flavor was more mild than I expected, sweet and tangy and still very hoppy with a nice lingering bitter finish.

I'm not sure if this makes sense or not, but in my very amateur opinion I usually draw a line between hoppy and bitter. I realize they go hand in hand but to me a beer can be very hoppy without being overly bitter (in either the good way or the bad way) and it can also be bitter without having the hoppy notes that I'm used to looking for and loving. Maybe one day I'll find out of it this is crazy or not but for not it's my story and I'm sticking to it.

That being said, it looks like more bars are popping up with kegs of Wet and I think I'd be doing myself a disservice if I didn't mosey around to those bars and enjoy them while I can. I'll make a toast to those of you who are unfortunate and do not have access to this Surly offering. I'll also think of how lucky I am to be living where I do, I guess part of me must have known deep down that Surly would be opening its doors less than five miles from me when I picked this neighborhood to buy a house back in 2005. Guess I'll have to toast to that as well.



  1. Makes me really thirsty. I was hoping for some good carbonation on the Darkness I still can't wait to taste it. I think something that sets Old Rasputin and Dark Lord apart are their abundant amounts of carbonation that almost bring a liquorice flavor in those imperial stouts.

  2. I've never had beer from a firkin before but from what I understand, it's part of the reason for a lack of carbonation.

    Then again, this could be like Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout which didn't seem to have much either (although I didn't mind that).

    If you like more of a licorice/anise flavor to your stouts (I don't) you should check out Sam Adams Imperial Stout. I don't really notice it in the Rasputin and I haven't had the Dark Lord but it was a bit much for me in the Sam Adams.

    I'm hoping to get my hands on some Darkness and I'm not sure if the way they're doing it this year helps or hurts my chances.