Come To The Dark (Beer) Side!
I’ve had this thing lately where I might have a few beers on any given night and then, much like my afternoon coffee obsession with Chunky Kit Kats, I feel the need to finish my night of beer tasting with a dark brew. I just find that it finishes the night off really nicely, much like you would have some dessert or coffee, or maybe even an affogato…I like my dark beers.
I think there is a clue in that top paragraph as to why I desire dark beers so much…I enjoy coffee, and chocolate, two flavours that tend to be fairly common in dark beers. Whatever it is, they are the flavour of the month for me right now…even went as far as doing a video review of one, Van Dieman Stacks Bluff, a few weeks back!
Ever had that thing where you turn up to a dinner or barbecue and you pull out a couple of dark beers and your mates get all nervous and frightened around them? It like “oh yeah, I love beer, but I don’t do dark beers”, or “oh no, I could never chew my way through that”, or “it’s so dark, it must be really high in alcohol”. I would expect that most of the people making these comments have never even tried a dark beer, or maybe their thing is that they have never tried a GOOD dark beer, having only experienced more mass produced efforts, perhaps?
To all of these people unwilling to try a dark beer, I say, you don’t know what you are missing out on…they are bloody delicious!
Let’s address a few of those misconceptions about dark beers:
Darkness = Thickness/Chewiness
Yeah, some Imperial Stouts can be a bit thicker in the mouth feel, or a Nitro infused beer like a Guinness can feel a bit different to a standard mainstream lager, but you aren’t drinking some health shake with rolled oats and wheatgrass to clog up your mouth! It’s beer and that means it made up of 90+% water…how thick can it be?
Darkness = Scariness
Hold most dark beers up to the light and you can actually see through them. In fact, a lot of them are actually really deep red/amber in colour and that’s not scary! The picture here is of one of my home brewed porters, that when held up to the light is anything but black!
Darkness = High alcohol
If you have a dark beer that is called an “Imperial” style beer, then yes, it will be higher in alcohol. However, you will find dark beers with lower ABV’s, like the ones you can see below. I haven’t tried the Victory Donnybrook Stout on the left (it’s only available in the USA on tap), but any stout that is lower in ABV and still scores an 85 on Beer Advocate must be pretty good!
As you work left to right in the picture, the taste, complexity and ABV of the beers increase…but not that much really. I know of a lot of lighter coloured IIPA’s that are 6 – 7% in ABV, as opposed to the very delicious Sierra Nevada Porter weighing in at a relatively low 5.6%.
At the end of the day, a dark beer is still made using grains like a normal beer, but they have just been roasted for a while longer until their colour darkens, which then in turn leads to darker colours in the beer. Its kind of like leaving the toast in the toaster for a bit longer!
When I address the misconceptions above with my friends, I just ask them…
Do you like Chocolate?
Do you like Coffee?
If they answer yes to both of these questions then I tell them they will love dark beers! If they are really struggling with the colour of the beer, I have been known to start them off with something that is a bit darker, but doesn’t really have too much of the roastiness or chocolate notes.
I have found in the past that something like Tooheys Old has really worked well in changing people’s thoughts about dark beer. They know the brand, may have heard of the beer, and it’s got just enough in it in terms of colour and taste to start them on their dark beer journey. Then, once they have gotten over their fear, I lead them further to The Dark Side!
In celebration of Dark Beers, here are 5 of my current favourites:
Mornington Peninsula Porter 6.0%
Had one of these before Xmas in my Advent Calendar!
I loved the red hues of this beer and the way the off white head just laced down the glass for me…sensational!
But no need to rehash my thoughts, just read about it here!
Temple New World Order American Stout 6.5%
The Temple guys sent me a few samples of this recently with the Rye IPA that I reviewed…many thanks lads!
I have to say that the first one was so tasty that I have had to ration myself on the other two bottles…or I could just go out and buy some more…great beer.
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout 5.2%
I have mentioned this one before in my Beer and Chocolate story…check it out here.
To best describe this beer, think about it as if you are drinking a block of milk chocolate in a bottle, got it? It’s that damn good!
Guinness Extra Stout 6.0%
Probably going to offend a few anti-big-beer drinkers out there, but I still think this one is a great beer.
It was my old man’s 70th birthday recently and we split a six pack of these beauties to finish the night. We paired up and won the cribbage game against my brother in law that night, so I backed it up the next night with a few more and won 3-0 in that series too…maybe this is my new go-to beer for when I play crib?
For all you young people out there…cribbage is a card game dating back to the 17th century that is made even more enjoyable with a few beers!
Holgate Temptress Chocolate Porter 6.0%
You can’t help but be a fan of this brewery when they produce a dark beer as good as this one. The Beer Diva Kirrily Waldhorn describes it as “an alluring decadence…mousse-like sensory perfection… created with love for the dreamy romantics amongst us”. That is the sexiest description I have ever come across for a beer!
I have mentioned my love of this brewery before on this site…they just brew great beer!
And for bonus points, here is one I that I have heard great things about but have never tried…as it is on the other side of the world from me and I don’t think it is distributed in Australia?
Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin 5.5%
I have heard this Oatmeal Stout being described as clean and perfectly balanced with chocolate and black coffee flavours and working with some light smokey/roasty notes that just kick ass! Sounds pretty good to me!
I also just found out that they do a nitro infused version of this called the Nitro Merlin (slightly predictable)…now you have my interest sparked, Firestone Walker! I must find this beer!
So there you have it folks…don’t be afraid to try new things, you might just like it. Dark beers are full of aroma, character and love…love from the craft brewer who has poured their heart and soul into the recipe to give you that glass of roasty perfection in your hand. Seek out some of these above and I guarantee you will love them!
Hopefully you were able to check out my interview with Owen Johnston from Hop Trial Brewing Company during the week, and my video of his beer launch for the Ella Pale Ale. As usual, Beer O’Clock on Friday and story time next Monday…look out for them! I would love you to check out my Facebook page or subscribe to my YoutTube channel! You can also sign up for email notifications here , leave me a comment to let me know how I am going, or follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and maybe even re-tweet some of my stuff…it all helps!
Fantastic list of excellent dark beer. Some of the best dark local beers I’ve come across (BC & AB) are: Abandoned Abbey by BigRock, CocoaLoco by Stanley Park, Coconur Porter by Brewsters. I encourage you to check them out. #bookmarked ??