Total eclipse of the brew

Siobhan Buchanan picks out nine dark beers that are perfect for summer


Step into the sun-kissed, yoga-posing, paddle boarding world of Instagram and you will find glass after condensation-beaded glass of cold, pale beer; NEIPAs, craft lagers or even - God forbid - a rogue Schofferhofer. However, for those of us known to dabble with liquid eyeliner or the odd Cradle of Filth tour shirt, these bright and breezy beers don’t always fit the brand. The good news is that there are plenty of dark and moody beers out there that pack both deep flavour and massive thirst-quenching power. 

Brass Castle Dark Web – 4.8% ABV

Not only does this beer have excellent artwork that any goth would fall in love with, but it’s one of my favourite beers of all time. The beautiful chocolate, coffee and roasted malt notes of this dry stout from Yorkshire’s Brass Castle Brewery feel like a big hug, and any potential heaviness is lifted thanks to the refreshing citrusy, peppery, piney and spicy flavours from the Chinook and Columbus hops. Just as quaffable as any hoppy IPA, this beer is perfect all year round, even in hot summer months. 

Utopian Dark Lager – 5.4% ABV

Inspired by Bavarian Dunkel beers, this lovely drop from Devon-based Utopian Brewing pours a gorgeous amber colour, and has flavours of bread crust, caramel and nuts from the dark malts. But, the fact that it’s a lager style means it’s really refreshing, with its light body and carbonation making it incredibly drinkable and balanced. 

Kernel Export India Porter – around 6% ABV

This is one of the greatest beers being brewed in the UK, by one of the country’s greatest breweries - I will always, always order it when I see it on draft. Inspired by traditional 1850s recipes, London’s Kernel Brewery changes the hop bill in this porter from batch to batch, so you never get the same beer twice. Exciting, right? It’s rich enough to satisfy that craving for a dark beer, but refreshing, bitter, and hoppy enough that it’s easy to sink a few in a row. 

Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen – 5.4% ABV

Good ol’ Schlenk - tastes like bacon (or, if you ask me, smoked gouda) and is the perfect companion for BBQ meat and smoky bratwurst. As soon as you open a bottle of this, you’ll be met with an intense smoky aroma - this, and the darker colour of the beer, are achieved by smoking barley malts over beechwood logs. So, gather your mates, buy a crate of this dark smoked German lager, get a barbecue going, grill some smoky spicy meats and some tasty veggies, and enjoy.

Rivington Soon I’ll Be On Fries – 5.5% ABV

The addition of juicy berries (blackberries, blackcurrants and raspberries) and a touch of vanilla make this porter an ideal choice for summer sunset sips. The sweet vanilla counteracts the sharpness of the fruits, and the roastiness of the dark malts complement the tanginess of the berries. No idea what the name means, but I love a good fruited stout or porter, and something like this banger from Lancashire’s Rivington Brewing Co is sure to hit the spot. 

Siren Broken Dream – 6.5% ABV 

Why have a coffee when you can have a coffee *beer*? Lots of dark malts, some smoked malts, and specially-selected espresso coffee from London’s Climpson & Sons give this beer an indulgent richness that is difficult to top. That is, unless you try the Hard Pour nitro version, which has an even smoother, richer mouthfeel thanks to the cans being dosed with nitrogen gasses. Truly a delightful beer, by this revered Berkshire brewery that’s always pushing the boundaries. 

Eko Black smoked porter – 5% ABV

Founded by Anthony and Helena in 2018 - and influenced by Anthony’s Nigerian heritage - London-based Eko Brewery makes bold beers using traditional African brewing techniques and recipes. Black is the brewery’s very first brew, and features a lovely smoky malt flavour, with some caramel and chocolate malt to balance and add smoothness. This tasty drop is one to savour, perhaps alongside a chargrilled burger smothered in cheese, with a side of paprika-heavy cajun fries. Ooft, I’m drooling now. 

Tryst Brewery chocolate & coconut porter – 4.4% ABV

This is an absolute stunner of a beer, and if you can get it on cask (probably only an option if you’re in Scotland, unfortunately, as Tryst is based near Stirling), it’s all the more moreish. After a few beers and a meal, you might not fancy a dessert - and that’s where this beauty comes in. Extremely drinkable, smooth and rich, with a heavy dose of toasted coconut added during the brewing process, this is one you want to sip as the sun goes down and that gentle summer chill starts to set in. 

*wild card*

Gweilo Sudoku golden stout – 6% ABV

If you absolutely *must* drink stouts at all times, but do not fancy the heaviness and richness, I present unto you my greatest gift - the white stout. Brewed with as many lovely malts as a stout, but using paler ones instead of darker ones, and with the addition of coffee, vanilla and chocolate in the brew, this beer from Hong Kong’s Gweilo Beer is beautifully decadent and incredibly quaffable. You’re welcome. 

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