Sometimes people give dark beers a bad wrap - it’s a style, which gets relegated to the cold, shivery corners of the winter months; they’re accused of being a heavy, filling drop; and some will just outrageously claim, outright, “I don’t drink dark beers”, when, in all honesty, have they really given them a fair go?
If they did, they’d discover that a good Stout, Porter or Imperial Dark is like a lovely warm, roasty hug in a glass, carrying a plethora of flavour profiles from smokey to sweet, briny to spicy, chocolatey to savoury on its smooth, dark wings.
Hold our (dark) beer as we break your beereotype with our Beervana recommendations - and follow us to the dark side of Beervana with these picks for this year’s fest.
Nitro & Handpull - Smooth, creamy and low carbonation
Southpaw Brewing Co. - Sweet Science#4 5.2% Stout - A real Beervana special, pulled through coffee beans on the Nitro tap. Sweet Science is a sweet-style stout, which focuses on roasted malts, combined with rich sweetness from lactose and crystal malts.
Ground Up Brewing - The Fifth Voyage 6.5% Coconut Porter - Brewed with organic Sri Lankan coconut threads, cacao husks and vanilla. A bit of a dessert beer.
Choice Bros. Brewing - Shake it! 7.1% Choc Milkshake Stout - Just like a chocolate milkshake, only beery. This choccie and vanilla milkshake stout is a lush collaboration with Heyday Beer Co, featuring Dutch cocoa and painstakingly, yet lovingly, hand-scraped Tongan vanilla.
Served on hand pull, this is a roasty, toasty traditional Irish Stout, sweetened with milk sugar. The Quad has full body and a creamy taste. At 4% it’s an easy and comforting drink on a cold winter’s day. This beer is brewed in memory of Duncan’s resident good boy, brewery dog, Quad, with proceeds from the sale of this beer donated to New Zealand Land Search and Rescue Dogs. Woof!
Savoury - As good as a steak meal
Sailor’s Grave - Law of the Tongue 5.8% Smokey Oyster Stout - An Oyster Stout brewed in collaboration with Wapango Rocks Wild Organic Oysters. Eighty dozen oysters were added to the kettle to provide subtle mineral and ocean flavours. Also in the mix is Beechwood smoked malt, lactose and Sunrise Limes (a cross between a native lime and a cumquat) to give a smooth, creamy and full-bodied beer with a bacon-like smokiness and citrus kick in the tail. Impenetrably dark and beautifully balanced – drink with a dozen or so freshly shucked ice-cold oysters from the Mahurangi Oyster stand.
Roasty - Coffee, Chocolate & Vanilla
Duncan’s Brewing Co. - Coco Husk Stout 6.1% Chocolate Stout - Infused with cocoa husks, a by-product of the chocolate-making process, this stout possesses rich, deep flavour and aroma.
Fortune Favours - MMXIX 9% Bourbon Vanilla Imperial Porter - Four words and all of them: DELICIOUS. Expect big, dark, oaky and vanilla. This beer is only released in small batches over the year, so it gets some good age on it. Brewed in collaboration with Aidan Jones, after his version won Champion Ale at SOBA's National Home Brew Competition.
- Tiny Rebel “messes about” with their classic Marshmallow Porter, Stay Puft. They’ve covered this brew with layers of salted caramel to add to the sweet, roasty flavours and upped the ABV to 9%. A party in your Beervana glass.
Funk Estate - Afrogato 7% Coffee Vanilla Almond Stout - The Funk fam have been making this beer for a good four years, and it’s always a festival favourite. First made for GABS 2015, it has a robust, roasty base; added to that is Tauranga roaster, Fixation Coffee’s, house coffee blend alongside some vanilla and almond to imitate one of the Funk boys’ favourite desserts, the Affogato.
Emerson’s Brewery - Mexicoco 8% Choc Chili Porter - Both raw and roasted cocoa beans from the Otago Chocolate Company were crushed and included in the mash as well as during the conditioning phase. To balance out the chocolate-y goodness, they threw in a lot of whole, red chilies. This adds a nice warming heat, whilst the vanilla pods and cinnamon add a subtle spice in the background to warm the cockles of your heart and belly.
Noice, Different, Unusual.....
Renaissance Brewing 9.4% 1000th Brew Heritage Imperial Porter - What do you do to celebrate your 1000th brew? You brew big or go home. Expertly crafted by six of New Zealand's finest brewers - all of whom worked their craft at Renaissance Brewery - some past, some present. Heritage boasts almost a dozen malts, coupled with Apollo, Southern Cross, Pacific Jade and Nelson Sauvin hops. All are blended to produce a rich, toasty and decadent brew. Aromas of coffee and toffee with a hint of dark fruit. Your tastebuds can expect a roasted nutty, maple character with a full bodied mouth-feel, and a soft, lingering bitterness.
Altitude Brewing - Midnight Feast 10.0% PB&J Imperial Stout - Queentown’s Altitude teamed up again with Burke's Brewing near Lake Tekapo for the 2019 NZ Stout Challenge. Big, smooth and rich enough to buy your way into US residency - this is the American Dream in a glass. Peanut butter and jelly all over with layers of chocolate to complete the package.
Emerson’s Brewery - Bretted Porter - A classic London Porter aged in Brettanomyces-infected wine barrels to give it complex Brett notes, like funk, fruitiness and leather.
Hop Federation - The Experimentals 6% Boysenberry Stout - Part of Hop Fed’s Experimentals line-up, special Beervana festival beers, brewed with experimental hops from NZ Hops. This stout had Nelson boysenberries added at the end of fermentation, to give a soft, beer-y flavour to round it out.
Mind-bendingly delicious and a true original. Yeastie’s flagship beer, and biggest seller, Pot Kettle Black is one of New Zealand’s most widely awarded beers. PKB, as it is affectionately known, is a juxtaposition of beer styles: fresh and hoppy, yet as dark as night and malty rich. The black beer that has converted many a person who’d formerly professed a fear of dark ales, and been called a "real foodie beer".
Aged Dark Beers
Brew Moon Brewing Company - Mad Monk 9% Russian Imperial Stout - This Russian Imperial Stout has spent the last six months in French Pinot Noir barrels. It has developed a savoury complexity, but is still big and bold.
Black Rock Brewing - The Old Oaked 7% Oaked Porter - Hefty malts combine to make this new Black Rock Porter, infused with scorched bourbon oak. A little sweet, a little smokey.
Boatrocker Brewers & Distillers - Fat Santa 12.6% Whisky Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout - This Aussie outfit aged this imperial stout in Starward whisky casks then infused it with coffee beans, vanilla beans and tonka beans. Decadent aromatics and flavours of vanilla, marzipan, coffee, chocolate and malt.
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Don’t forget to grab your tickets to Beervana!