Dark Beers for Hot Weather
By Dappered Drinks Correspondent Ben Madeska
Summer’s winding down, but we still got some hot days ahead of us. Here are some dark beers to finish up the summer and transition into fall.
I don’t like summer beers. I don’t like the taste of hops. I’ve tried, but it’s with increasing dread that I anticipate each summer when restaurants and breweries start trotting out their over-hopped monsters and watered-down lights.
I understand that there’s some historic sense to drinking hoppy beer in the summer. Hops act as a preservative, so back when the British Empire had to get barrels of beer to their far-flung colonies it made sense to hop the hell out of them so the beer would survive the sail (hence the ‘India’ in the India Pale Ale).
But in these days of refrigerated freight there’s no reason not to enjoy dark beer year round.
First off, let’s deal with the myth that dark equals heavy. Yes some stouts are made to help you survive Siberian winters, but many people I know who should know better still refer to beers like Guinness as meals in a glass. Guinness Draught has less alcohol than other standard summer beers like Corona and even Miller and Bud Light, and significantly less than most Pale Ales and IPAs. In my experience a cold pint of Guinness is one of the most refreshing drinks available on a hot day.
Dark beers go great with summer food too. Beyond anything off the grill, from hamburgers to tuna, the lighter stouts and porters are natural match for shellfish. I highly recommend trying them with raw oysters. I once had a waiter try to talk me out of this, claiming the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter from Great Lakes I ordered would overwhelm the delicate taste of the oysters. This porter is so tasty and easy to drink, I think it’d go with just about everything, and it only improved the oysters. Don’t be intimidated by cowardly waiters. They are not to be trusted.
A favorite and readily available dark summer beer is Negra Modelo, a Munich style Dunkel Lager. This comes out of Mexico and is usually the best beer choice at Mexican restaurants. The taste is touch sweet with flavors of caramel and molasses and, like most darker beers, pairs great with mole poblano sauce. For a step up in quality in this style of beer try Warsteiner’s Premium Dunkel.
Smoked beers, like Stone’s Smoked Porter, can be acquired tastes. Some taste like nothing so much as a kielbasa smoldering in a campfire. Just a touch of smoke in a porter like this one from Stone, however, makes it a perfect compliment to BBQ.