Surly Brewing Company of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota (a suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul), has built a huge reputation in its few short years as makers of fine beers with attitude, The most popular of their big beers is Darkness, a Russian Imperial Stout with 9.6% alcohol by volume.
As with Three Floyds Dark Lord, this malt-heavy stout is only made once a year, and offered for sale on what has become known as Darkness Day at the brewery. This year's D-Day, October 23, saw 7,500 bomber bottles of Darkness go out the door at $18 apiece.
Here in Chicago, we have only been able to get Surly in occasional draft barrels, as they have not had the brewing capacity to serve the Chicago market with its canned beers. So we have been able to imbibe in a few Darknesses, as I did last year. And many other Surly beers have been available on draft. Until recently, that is. In June, the Chicagoist reported that Surly was pulling all its accounts outside of Minnesota to meet local demand while a brewery expansion was underway. At the time, they quoted Brewer Todd Haug in an my e-mail, saying, "It's probably safe to say we won't be back anytime soon."
Fortunately, "anytime soon" may not be too long. Barrels of Surly Darkness have been appearing on draft accounts in Chicago's finer beer bars this week. Here's your chance to go slippin' into Darkness.
Here are the bars currently reporting Darkness on tap. Be sure to call ahead if you want to confirm that it's still available:
The Map Room, 1949 N. Hoyne Ave., Chicago (773) 252-7636
Small Bar - Division, 2049 W. Division St., Chicago (773) 772-2727 (Facebook page for latest info)
The Tribes Alehouse, 11220 W. Lincoln Hwy, Mokena, IL (815) 464-0248 (Facebook)
Twisted Spoke, 501 N. Ogden Ave., Chicago 312-666-1500 (Wednesday) (Facebook)
The Barley House, 1520 S. Randall Rd., Algonquin (847) 658-5520 (Confirmation uncertain)
Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield Ave., Chicago (773) 281-4989 (Listing from RateBeer.com, Nov. 10)
Bavarian Lodge, 1800 Ogden Ave., Lisle, IL (630) 241-4701 (Tapping party Nov. 18, includes kegs of Surly Four (Double Espresso Milk Stout), Smoke (Smoked Imperial Baltic Porter) and Abrasive (Imperial IPA) (Facebook)
The Publican, 837 W. Fulton Market, Chicago (312) 733-9555 (Tapping party soon) (Facebook)
This list will be updated as more locations are known, so check back often.