The normal association between beer and weather is a nice, cold bottle on a hot, sunny day.
The thing I find, however, is that dark beer tends to go well with a cloudy day… First, there’s the colour connection: I have a tendency to relate murky coloured skies with the shadowy hues of a stout. There’s also the texture: Dark beer can be creamy and thick… Not something I want to drink in the heat.
With that in mind, here are a few of my personal favourites that I enjoy during my rainy season exploration of the dark side:
Murphy’s Irish Stout
Under the same umbrella as the famous (and readily-available) Heineken, this 4% ABV Irish Stout hails from Cork, Ireland. This beer is so dark; its colour classification is under “black” (though I’m sure our friends from Pantone will have a different opinion). Compared to other dark beers, it’s lighter and less bitter, with notes of caramel and malt that make me think it’s a cousin (twice removed) of chocolate milk.
What’s particularly interesting about Murphy’s is that it’s free from any hint of carbonation, making the liquid look like one solid black mass once it settles (and it’s mesmerizing to watch it as it does… Or maybe it’s the alcohol talking…?). The firm creaminess of the head is because of the nitrogen widgets in the can, making pouring the beer in a glass idiot (and tipsy) proof.
Guinness Stout (Foreign Extra)
The “bitter” rival of Murphy’s (pun intended), this Irish dry stout is a staple in UK pubs. The standard iteration of the label’s iconic beer gets its burnt flavour from unmalted barley, and has the unusual distinction of positioning itself as a “healthy” beer: Studies claim that Guinness has a good amount of antioxidant compounds (similar to those found in fruits and vegetables), which is good for the heart and slows down the deposit of harmful cholesterol on artery valves.
Personally, I prefer the Foreign Extra variant. This deep brown, 7.5% alcohol variety has pronounced flavours of roasted malt and dark cherries, and is the rough, ashy, heavily hopped brother of the standard Guinness Stout.
Stout Crusader Russian Stout by Baguio Craft Brewery
Backtrack: At the risk of revealing my “blogging” methods, I have a confession to make: I never simply rely on the Internet, tasting notes, or personal opinions whenever I write an article. As much as I could, I look at books to substantiate anything I put on the blog, and can get pretty OC about it (as any non-writer would, I guess).
That being said, when I tried to look for material on Russian Stouts, it took me about an hour and a half to find one, which brought me to a conclusion: Making Russian Stouts is an ambitious, painstaking, unusual endeavour.
Russian Stouts (or Russian Imperial Stouts) can trace their origins in England, but the popularity of this beer reached its height in the 19th century Russian tsarist court. Everyone knows how tsarist Russia ended up (Anastasia, anyone?), and with that, anything reminiscent of Russian monarchy.
Baguio Craft Brewery’s Stout Crusader, their take on Russian Stouts, is gorgeous: A very hoppy, borderline opaque black beer with bitter, aromatic notes of cooked plums and sultanas, that lasts forever in the mouth and can hold its own with chocolate pudding and coffee-flavoured desserts.
San Miguel Cerveza Negra
This is the Philippines. Whenever anyone talks about Philippine alcohol, one label comes to mind: San Miguel Beer. Their collection includes affordable, accessible beer that caters to the Pinoy (and some foreign!) palate.
Cerveza Negra is an excellent way to begin exploring the world of dark beer. It retains a crisp, refreshing quality (read: not intimidating), but the colour, quality, and flavour profile reminds me of Schwarzbier (a classification of dark lagers that shouldn’t be said five times fast).
With that in mind, excuse me while I grab a pint and chill out at home, watching the rain batter our windows.
I’d like to take this opportunity as well to apologize for writing sporadically the past few weeks, but as the photo illustrates, I’ve been busy… It does give a bit of a teaser as to what’s coming next in the blog though. 😉
What’s your favourite dark beer? Cheers!