Posted 7 months ago | Beer, Reviews

Surly Damien


In 2011, Surly decided not to toss aside the remaining wort from brewing their annual release of Darkness, a big, bad Russian imperial stout. Dubbed the Child of Darkness, Damien (6.5% ABV) was spawned from the second running those remnants. Don’t let that fact or the creep doll face on the label artwork frighten you from checking this black ale out however. It may certainly pour evil, but it’s not so grim once it hits the tastebuds.

Damien appears to pour like the bastard offspring of Darkness — black and opaque with a dense tan head of foam. The aroma however alludes to aromas less sinister. A healthy dose of pine and citrus notes (mostly tangerine and orange peel) fill the gaps between roast coffee, a hint of cocoa and a touch of cigar tobacco. The beer is even more lively once it crosses the tongue as the light-to-medium body and active carbonation breath new life into that creepy little doll. The pine is pungent as the tangerine steps back a bit initially before showing again late in the lasting finish.

A hint of chocolate and soft tobacco notes linger with that dry-hopped (Willamette and Glacier) citrus influence while the moderate hop bite tingles gently after each sip. Damien isn’t so bad. Sure that doll may bug the hell out of you — just close your eyes and think of your happy place.

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of this brew. The piney and citrusy flavors aren’t really to be expected upon peering deep into Damien’s near-black depths. It’s a bit late for Halloween, but it’s never to late for to trick some friends with this devilishly fun little brew.

This is a review of a promotional sample.


Opaque, near-black with a pillowy head of dark tan foam. The cap drops smoothly, leaving a decent crown in its wake.

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