This week in beer… turning to the dark side


FOLLOWING on from my previous article, where we introduced our naive beer drinker to the wonderful world of light craft beer, this piece now evolves our standard beer drinker into a well rounded, dark beer drinker as well.

So many beer drinkers appear wary of drinking a dark beer for no other discernible reason it seems than the colour. What people need to realise when drinking a dark beer are the complexities of dark beers which, truth be told, are far greater than that of light coloured beers. These complexities not only relate to the colour of the beer, but also the taste, aroma and mouth-feel of them.

An interesting introduction to craft beer could involve a trip to Braddon’s Bentspoke. Try their Braddon bitter, with its earthy taste, malty aroma and lower alcohol level. Your discerning drinker may be put off by the warmer serving temperature and soft, chewy mouth-feel, but once they have gotten over this different experience to the classic lager, they’ll realise a beer such as a bitter is actually a very easy and not overly challenging beer, and a very suitable dark beer starting point.

So if your beer drinking friend has gotten over this first hurdle, their eyes are about to be well and truly opened to dark world of dark craft beer. However, if your friend is just unable to get over the hurdle that is a bitter style of beer, you can try them on a dark lager. Dark in colour and with strong coffee and chocolate flavours, beers like McLaren Vale Dark Lager also exhibit pine and citrus notes, iconic in craft beer lagers, pilsners and pale ales.

The next step on the Australian dark craft beer journey is the classic dark ale. Probably the most iconic example of this in recent times is the White Rabbit Dark Ale. Made by White Rabbit, this a delicious, delicate malt-driven ale, just a small step up in flavour from a dark lager.

By now, the hope is that your friend is beginning to embrace the richer malt flavours expressed in dark beers. The next step is a truly exciting one as we move into porter territory. If your friend is a coffee drinker, than this step will be easy. A porter is an interesting beer that combines the styles of a dark ale and a pale ale. I’d recommend getting your hands on the Bridge Road Brewers Robust Porter, a big, strong porter with big coffee notes and a good length. Other good examples of Australian porters include Murrays Dark Knight Porter or the vanilla scented Red Island Brewing Co. Quiet Deeds Vanilla Porter.

If your evolving friend has made it this far, then you no longer need to be embarrassed of them when you go to a pub and they ask “have you got anything like Carlton?”

The final step on the dark beer journey are stouts. I consider stouts to be like the porter’s big, older and wiser brother. Naturally, when most people think of a stout they gravitate to Guinness. But what is truly exciting is all the great styles of beer Australian breweries are producing, even stouts.

Wagga’s own Thirsty Crow Vanilla Milk Stout tastes just like a vanilla milkshake, but with 5.2% alcohol and rated at number 10 in the Hottest 100 Australian beers of 2013, it has become one of the most sought after craft beers in Australia. I’m sure our newly introduced craft beer drinker will enjoy this drop.

But don’t stop there, the 4 Pines Brewing Co. Space Beer and Nail Brewing Clout Stout are the perfect lead up to the zenith of dark beers, the Imperial Stout. Generally with alcohol above 9%, these beers pack a punch. Certainly not a session-able drop, something like the Mornington Pennisula Brewery Russian Imperial Stout or Murrays Wild Thing Imperial Stout will give your friend the perfect sign off on their Australia dark craft beer journey.

What’s impressing me?

  •; Great website, listing best pubs in Melbourne, best pubs up at the snow, best beer styles and more
  • Bridge Road Brewers; Some ripper beers by these guys. Their Bling IPA is awesome, as is their Pale Ale and Robust Porter
  • BrewCult and the Transit Bar; Appears to be a match made in heaven! Make sure you get down to the Transit Bar and try some of Hendo’s Brew Cult specials, including the Pepper Steak Porter and the Hop Zone IPA

Adrian Moran has been pouring beers for over nine years and runs a weekly podcast devoted to craft beer
Twitter: @ausbeerjourney

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