The scene at Stub & Herb’s was raucous for Surly Tasting Night.
Patrons packed into every available booth, standing two and three deep at the bar, and hovering over high-top tables sipping on one of eight Surly offerings on draught — Mild, Furious, Cynic, Bender, Coffee Bender, Smoke, 16 Grit and of course Darkness. It’s not often you’re granted access to such a wide variety of Surly stuff all at once. So when you get the opportunity, you need to take advantage of it. And by the increasingly intoxicated sounds of the pub as the night wore on, people certainly were.
I met my friend Ryan there who had thankfully already secured a booth for us. We perused the formidable craft beer menu, knowing full well we’d both just end up ordering Darkness to kick off our evening anyway. When the waitress arrived, I threw my friend a curveball and opted for the 16 Grit, which ended up being especially tasty on draught, even better than a fresh growler. Nicely hopped, a hefty malt backbone that lent some balancing sweetness, and a smooth finish that made you think for a moment that you weren’t actually drinking what was likely a 9% ABV double IPA.
My friend, a Darkness virgin, philisophically stared at his glass with each slow pull of the imperial stout. He couldn’t get over what a complex ale it was, at the same time mind-bendingly malty while also offering a surprisingly nice touch of hops in the nose. He ordered a second one after he worked his way through the first, just to make sure it qualified as one of the best beers he’d ever had.
We pressed on, ordering several others including Smoke, which seemed to go well with my simple burger and fries, and Cynic, which made my friend quickly realize that his palette had been destroyed by the crushing weight of Darkness. It’s a tough act to follow, no matter what beer it is.
Coincidentally ran into some craft beer-loving high school friends I hadn’t seen in more than a decade, including Brian over at East-Lake.net (nice work on eight years of blogging, by the way). He posted a nice write-up on his evening, as well.
Fun night all around. Darkness made such an impression on my friend we decided to try our hands at brewing our own version of it this weekend. Definitely going to do a double mash on this one to get the gravity as high as I can (this 5 gallon mash tun thing is getting old). I’ll let you know how it goes.