I have noticed in my years of drinking craft beer that many beer drinkers are afraid of the dark. What I mean is that there seems to be a lot of new and old beer drinkers that are intimidated by dark beers. I can understand why. They can be a little scary especially to someone who has only known the macro beer lagers such as Budweiser or Miller. Not to mention the preconceptions about the number of calories and bitter taste. But there is a whole new world of flavor to be had in stouts and porters, and it seems that if one can find a flavor within them that they enjoy they might be more willing to try and even come to like these styles. That’s why stout loving girls like me make it our mission to convert others to the dark side!
Recently, I was pouring a “Breakfast Stout” from Maumee Bay Brewing Company at a beer festival and noticed that a lot of people were passing me by saying things like “oh, I don’t like dark beer”. I understand that a lot of folks have tried them and legitimately don’t like them, but when you are at a beer fest I believe one should try everything…or almost everything. So I called a couple of those so called “dark beer haters” and asked them if they liked coffee. A few of them said “yes”, and I convinced them to at least take a small taste of the chocolate, coffee and oatmeal stout that I was pouring. The folks that thought they hated dark beer but liked coffee were surprised to find that they actually enjoyed this beer. Success! I just hope that in the future when someone offers them a beer that they aren’t sure about they bite the bullet and sample the suds.
See, the beauty of dark beer is that there are so many different kinds and so many flavors you can taste within them. Not all dark beers are stouts either, so if you don’t like chocolate or coffee or roasted malt you may still like a German dark lager (Schwarzbier) or even a hoppy black IPA. Not to mention the fact that it seems, in my experience at least, that no two of the same style ever taste completely alike. Tons of breweries out there create dark beers, and some do more than one of a particular kind. For example, Great Lakes brewery releases Blackout Stout every winter, but they also do a barrel aging treatment to the beer which they only release at the brewery (or at least that is how its been done in the past). I have been fortunate enough to attend a few of the release parties for this beer and have gotten to try the regular version side by side with the barrel aged version and they are quite different. So, on top of the world of flavors, there are even variations of the same beer that taste quite unique. Just last year I got to try Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout with coffee, raspberry, vanilla and even a rare whisky barrel “treatment”. All were unique and tasty, offering enough different flavors that I’m sure there was something for everyone to love.
I know it may seem like I am assuming that many people don’t like dark beer because it doesn’t look like Bud or Miller, but more people should give it a try and definitely try more then one kind. You’d be surprised by what you taste! If you’ve never had a dark beer you’ve liked, try a few at your next beer festival or brewpub. After all, why live your life being afraid of the dark?