The times are looking dark for craft beer – dark in color, that is. The winter is traditionally reserved for heavier, darker beers, and with spring still some time off, there are plenty of opportunities to find out what dark beers offer. In fact, a growing number of beer lovers prefer to have dark brews throughout the year. Whether you are just looking for a seasonal dark or you want a dark beer that will take you through to next winter, there are plenty of options out there.
Sam Adams Black Lager is one of the easier dark beers to find. You won't find this brew all year long, though, so stock up now. You can also find WinterBock from Gordon Biersch – their one and only entry for the winter season. Unlike the aforementioned Sam Adams, this is a dopplebock, rather than a schwarzbier. If you prefer schwarzbiers, then Xingu and Sprecher both offer options that can make your days dark and full-bodied.
If you want something a bit different, then you will find quite a few Baltic porters on offer, though these can be difficult to locate in some regions. Generally, the more rural the area, the fewer selections you'll have. You might have better luck looking for a dark ale, of which there are myriad options. Brown ales can be found from an incredible number of craft breweries, including Sierra Nevada, and Leinenkugel also offers a nice brown ale.
If you want to stick with porters (the middle ground between ale and stout), then you can opt for something from Samuel Smith or Rogue. However, choosing to go with a stout – the darkest of the dark beers – is an enjoyable change, particularly for those who are used to the light color and flavor of traditional lagers and pale ales. There are numerous stouts on offer, including options from Good People and Great Divide. Other stouts can be found from breweries like Terrapin, Left Hand and Bell, as well.
If you want dark and spicy options, though, then dark Belgian ales are just the thing. In addition to intense spice flavors, you will find that these options usually have higher alcohol content than many other options out there. St. Bernardus and Scaldis both offer good dark Belgian ales, though you will also find Corsendonk and Delirium available in this branch of the ever-growing beer tree.