rockwell beer co.'s oxford llama and bluewood brewing's 1821 mild photo by izaiah johnson

11 dark ales and lagers that are having a moment in and around St. Louis

Not every glass of ruby-tinged, black liquid is a stout or porter. Check out the world of dark ales and lagers, which are currently enjoying a minor moment with beer aficionados.

Dark lagers from Germany’s Bavarian region and the Czech Republic’s Bohemia, and dark ales from England and the U.S., are mellow beers that make for easy drinking and are excellent accompaniment to a meal. Hop bitterness is balanced by malt sweetness, though some styles boast a more acute hop aroma like the Cascadian dark ale, a style currently seeing a minor resurgence. Toasted grain offers these styles a nice caramel complexity that can quickly approach a rich, toffee-like profile.

These styles are distinguished by palate nuances characterized as nutty and chocolatey but never coffee-like or burnt. Despite their dark nature and unlike stouts, porters and even some brown ales, acridity is low. Although a small amount of heavily roasted grain may be used, its impact on the beer is visual and rarely affects flavor and aroma. Despite their appearance, these beers are not meant to be aggressive and bold. They are direct in their function but should never be sharp; they’re as cozy as they are refreshing. If you are intrigued, check out this list of mostly local brews. The dark side awaits the willing.

Dark Mild Ale
Frequently encountered in pubs across England and often considered a beer to drink every day by just about anybody, mild ales are the quintessential beverage of the British commoner. A nourishing, full-bodied style that boasts a low alcohol content and charming fruit-forward sweetness that blends nicely with notes of toasted bread and a creamy body brought on by generally low carbonation.
Try these:
Rockwell Beer Co. Oxford Llama
Bluewood Brewing 1821 Mild

photo by izaiah johnson

Czech-Style Dark Lager
Tmavé pivo, or Czech dark lager, is the newest and trendiest lager embraced by American breweries. Often overshadowed by its spritely pale counterpart, this darker-hued, Czech-style brew is just as refreshing with a rich, toasted malt palate that lightly resonates on the tongue with subtle notes of cocoa and caramel.
Try these:
Wellspent Brewing Co. Dark
Heavy Riff Brewing Co. Dark Star

Munich Dunkel
Dunkel translates to dark in English, and the dunkel lager is an exemplary Bavarian beer. The Munich dunkel is clean with toasted, nutty Munich malt lending ribbons of freshly baked bread and caramelized sweetness that often approach a toffee-like richness. Hop presence is moderate in bitterness and subtle on the nose with an occasional lingering note of spicy, herbal anise.
Try these:
Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. Dorfbier
Main & Mill Brewing Co. Classic Munich Dunkel
Third Wheel Brewing No D Dunkel

Much drier and lighter-bodied than its dunkel cousin, the schwarzbier is also Munich’s more roasty black beer. Sweetness is subdued and bitterness is apparent due to the heavily roasted malt and hop balance that characterizes the style. Some iterations teeter the line of burnt toast, but its light-bodied nature means the style is rarely perceived as meal-like or heavy.
Try these:
Schlafly Schwarzbier (available late November)
Civil Life Brewing Co. Black Lager (available August or September)

Cascadian Dark Ale
Also known as a black India pale ale, the Cascadian dark ale was popularized in the Pacific Northwest to showcase the complementary nature of heavily toasted grain and American hop profiles. Medium-light body, drier mouthfeel, dominant citrus and piney hop aroma, and caramelly, chocolatey malt blend to showcase an intentionally provocative style.
Try these:
2nd Shift Brewing Dead & Alive (available August or September)
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. Wookey Jack

Tags : Beer