Dark Brews for St. Paddy’s Day and Beyond
March brings with it not only the hope for an early end to winter, but one of our favorite holidays, too. St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world as a way to relax and have some fun, and while we can’t condone any green beer, we can suggest a few dark beers to carry you through St. Paddy’s Day and beyond because good beer knows no season, and dark beers are perfect year-round.
Anderson Valley Brewing Co. Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
Oatmeal stouts are kind of like having breakfast in a bottle, in a good way. Brewed with both malted barley and oat, these beers feature a heavier body than you’ll find with other stouts while keeping bitterness in check. Anderson Valley brews their Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout with two varietals of hops and six different malts to give this beer a depth of character that’s hard to find elsewhere. Aromas of bread, espresso, and dried cherries hide just below the surface, and when paired with the roasty, toffee flavors, this beer will seem less like a heavy stout and more like a dream.
Bells Brewing Co. Kalamazoo Stout
What sounds like a crazy name for a beer is actually a reference to the birthplace of Bell’s Brewery: Kalamazoo, Michigan. Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout is a 6% ABV full-bodied stout that features a blend of aromas including bread, toffee, and a hint of coffee paired with tastes of dark chocolate and fresh-roast coffee. Unlike some other stouts in this list, Kalamazoo Stout features a very prominent hop profile, giving it both hop flavor and bitterness.
Dogfish Head Beer for Breakfast
Who says you can’t have a beer for breakfast? Dogfish Head decided to take the idea of the breakfast stout to the next level with their Beer For Breakfast Stout. Originally released in 2014, this beer features a little of everything that makes breakfast great, including Guatemalan Antigua cold press coffee, maple syrup, and Rapa Scrapple. Add to this Applewood-smoked barley, flaked oats, molasses, milk sugars, brown sugar, and roasted chicory and what you have is a 7.4% ABV beer that’s calling for you to make breakfast any time of the day.
Erie Brewing Co. Skipper’s Stout
There’s more to the relationship between coffee and beer beyond having coffee the morning after you had beer. When you combine the roasty bitterness of a stout with the intense flavors found in coffee, you’re left with the best of both worlds. Erie Brewing releases their Skipper’s Stout each year as a beer that’s not like your typical coffee stout by keeping the bitterness low and the subtle flavors in charge.
Brewed with three varietals of coffee as well as crème brûlée, Skipper’s Stout comes in at 7.2% ABV and a nice low 14 IBU. While this is a winter seasonal, you should still be able to find some hanging around, just waiting to find a good home.
Lancaster Brewing Co. Milk Stout
Milk Stouts are named as such thanks to the addition of milk sugar (lactose) during the brewing process. This gives the beer a fuller body while adding some light sweetness to the beer that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Lancaster Brewing’s Milk Stout has the distinction of being America’s original craft milk stout, having been brewed by Lancaster since 1995. This 5% ABV beer features notes of coffee, milk chocolate, and roasted malt, all of which pair perfectly with the added milk sugar.
North Country Brewing Co. Buck Snort Stout
Not all stouts have to be low in bitterness, and a prime example of this is North Country Brewing’s Buck Snort Stout. This West Coast-Style Stout comes in at 7% ABV and relies on its hop profile for most of the greatness found in this beer. Unlike many stouts, this beer features a prominent hop profile instead of the more common coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt character. While there is some roasty malt flavor on the finish, this beer is all about the hops for sure.
Oskar Blues Brewing Co. Old Chub Scotch Ale
Scottish Ales are an interesting breed of beer. They’re dark, yet rarely do these beers feature the flavors you typically associate with dark beers. Old Chub comes in at 8% ABV and like many other Scottish Ales, features prominent aromas and flavors of toasted barley paired with a lightly smoked malt. Together, this gives Old Chub a sweet character that’s backed up with some alcohol and a slight hint of smoke to make it a truly unique experience.
Otter Creek Brewing Co. Couch Surfer Oatmeal Stout
One of the newest entries into the year-round lineup at Otter Creek Brewing, Couch Surfer is a dark and delicious stout that has notes of chocolate and coffee as well as a thicker mouthfeel thanks to the oats used in the brewing process. This laid-back stout isn’t one of the big and heavy ones you’d expect in the dead of winter, but instead is velvety-smooth and roasty thanks to the roasted malts used. Couch Surfer is perfect for the middle of summer or a cold winter night, as long as there’s an open seat on the couch that is.
Saugatuck Brewing Co. Neapolitan Milk Stout
Who doesn’t love Neapolitan ice cream? The chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla stripes are a mainstay in the world of ice cream, and for good reason. By themselves these flavors are great, but when combined they’re far more than the sum of their parts. Saugatuck Brewing took this idea to heart when they created their Neapolitan Milk Stout. This 6% ABV beer features a mild bitterness at 37 IBUs, but the real surprise here is how close this beer is to tasting like the ice cream we’ve all grown to love. It’s like a Neapolitan Sundae in a bottle and thankfully it’s available year round.
Smuttynose Brewing Co. Robust Porter
Holding the title of Smuttynose Brewing’s most award-winning beer is none other than their Robust Porter. This year-round beer comes in at 6.2% ABV and a hefty 60 IBUs, which means it’s a hophead’s dream while keeping us dark beer-loving fans happy in the process. While this style of beer may have originated on the docks of London’s shipyards, today Smuttynose’s version respects the original while adding some extra hop character to make this beer a truly unique beer.
Troegs Independent Brewing Troegenator
What happens when monks need sustenance but don’t want to break their fasting? Simple, they brew a beer that is, for the most part, liquid bread and is known as a doppelbock, or double bock. This original beer, known as “Salvator,” or “Savior,” is still brewed today to be higher in alcohol and full of flavor. Following this long-standing tradition, most double bocks have names that end in “ator” and Tröegs’ Troegenator is no exception.
Troegenator comes in at a hefty 8.2% ABV and a nice 25 IBU. Tröegs version of the double bock is thick and almost chewy with stand-out flavors and aromas of caramel, chocolate, and dried stone fruit.
If you’d rather enjoy Troegenator with food instead of enjoying this “liquid bread” as the monks did, you’ll find that root vegetables, raw shellfish, bitter greens, nuts, smoked meat, and even vanilla ice cream pair extremely well with this “savior” of the beer world.
Weyerbacher Brewing Co. Tiny
Wrapping up our list of dark beers for St. Paddy’s day and beyond is Tiny from Weyerbacher Brewing Co. Tiny is anything but small, coming in at a whopping 11.8% ABV. This imperial stout features big flavors of chocolate and roasted barley as well as a balance of Belgian yeast flavor. With a surprising lack of bitter astringency that can accompany beers like this, Tiny is easier to drink than you’d expect, making this Belgian-style imperial stout a great year-round beer.