Beer of the Weekend #803: Damien

Though Halloween has passed, I thought it would be fitting to find a Halloween or scary movie–themed beer. So the beer of the weekend is Damien, brewed by the Surly Brewing Company of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

The color is almost opaque black; light passes through when held to a lamp. Two fingers of bubbly, thick, tan-colored head leaves a broken and bubbly skim, a thick ring around the edge, and trails of lacing on the glass. The aroma is deep and dark, though not very strong. It features roasted and toasted malt, light coffee, caramel, dark chocolate, molasses, a hint of black licorice, brown sugar, and an undertone of citrus (the label mentions tangerine, but it does not smell that specific to me). The mouthfeel is full and velvety smooth. It has a toasty but zesty bitterness that lingers on the taste buds. The citrus is more prominent in the flavor, but once again I can’t pin down a specific flavor other than a general citrus character. The malt flavors — coffee, caramel, dark chocolate, black licorice, brown sugar, and molasses — are there but mostly inconsequential. The toast and roast are the most noticeable but not dominant. As it warms, it becomes very balanced, but the citrus retains the edge. The alcohol is completely masked. It is not as robust and flavorful as other black IPAs, but it is tasty and drinkable. The bottles I bought were on sale, so perhaps their age (which is unknown since there is no bottling date) is a factor.

Fun facts about Damien:

• Style: Surly calls it American black ale. I guess that’s the new name for black IPA.

• Price: $7.99 per 750 ml bottle at the New Pioneer Food Co-op in Iowa City.

• Alcohol content: The ABV is not included on the label or the beer’s webpage, but BeerAdvocate pegs it at 8 percent.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B.

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