So, I’m sitting here drinking one of the best beers in the world. And it got me thinking about a few things.

Of course, these can be debated…but for me, beer can be segmented into five categories of increasing desirability:

1. Macro garbage that I wouldn’t wish on my thirstiest enemy (Budweiser, Coors, Miller, etc.)

2. Macro garbage masquerading as a drinkable import (Heinekin, Amstel, Stella Artois)

3. Decent microbrew that has elevated itself out of the realm of macro garbage, but might be hit or miss depending on the offering (Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, Summit) 

4. Very good quality craft beer that I consistently seek out and consider drinking prolifically (Dogfish Head, Stone, Russian River, any Trappist)

And finally, number 5. Beer nirvana. Also known as Surly Darkness. There are few that reach these heights. In fact, only eight other beers in the world can claim superiority, according to Beer Advocate.

I’ve waited long enough. I’ve been dealing with a nearly three week head cold, which has nearly eliminated my sense of smell and taste. I endured the eight hour wait in line on Darkness Day, sneezing and coughing my ass off and repeatedly wiping my nose on the sleeve of my shirt before I was granted access to enter the front gates and purchase my six bottles of Darkness. I was so sick I couldn’t even try it when I got home. I immediately passed out and slept for several hours. Along the way, I even debated reviewing a bottle of Nyquil, since that was about all I was imbibing for a couple weeks. And I gotta say, the Cherry flavor isn’t too bad. Shitty mouthfeel though.

So here it is…the long awaited Surly Darkness 2008. Brewed with a blend of eight different malts, oats and candi sugar. 10.3% ABV, and 80 IBUs.

Darkness poured into my official Surly Darkness chalice with the grace of Penzoil. This is the thickest beer I’ve ever seen. I may need a fork and knife to drink this. For a moment, I wasn’t sure there was even carbonation involved, it was so thick. But sure enough, a nice bubbly head formed, producing a beautiful dark brown coloring.

Darkness is like a black hole. All light in its vicinity is immediately sucked into its vortex of gloppy goodness. If I didn’t know better, Surly may have brewed this with 100% black patent malt.

Yeah…I was pretty much left speechless. This beer is amazing. The smell is wonderfully sweet. It almost smells like straight malt extract, which normally isn’t a good thing. But balance it out with a ton of hoppiness, and you get a beer that just begs to be enjoyed. 

The taste is incredibly, unbelievably smooth. I can’t really put into words all that’s going on here, it’s super complex. Especially as the beer warms. The components of the beer are just so damn balanced. It’s almost supernatural. The intense sweetness hits you on the tip of your tongue, lingers for a second, then is enveloped by the 80 IBUs that kick in at the end. Through it all, you don’t even pick up any of the alcohol booziness. At least, until after the fourth or fifth sip when your head starts spinning.  

Drinkability…I don’t care what kind of marketing campaign Bud Light has going on. For the kind of beer this is, it’s one of the most drinkable, enjoyable beers I’ve ever had. I am so happy that I invested the time and effort to get it. Surly Darkness is HUGE in every respect. They should rename it Perfection.

Rating: Is there anything better than A+?

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