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Debunking the Dark Beer Myth

Stereotypes and misperceptions exist everywhere – even in the world of beer.  Dark beer, for example, is usually perceived as heavy and rich as well as high in alcohol content and calories. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that while many dark beers do fit the stereotypes, none of those characteristics is a given in a dark beer. The team at Cheers All debunks some common dark beer myths.

How Does Beer Get Its Color?

Dark Beers

There is a direct correlation between the malt content and the grain used in the brewing process and the color of the beer. grain that is used in the brewing process. Most beers are made with barley, wheat or oats. The degree to which these grains are roasted impacts the final color of a beer. Generally, the longer a grain is roasted the richer (and darker) the resulting brew is.  For example:

  • Light roasted malts result in straw and golden colors that produce biscuit flavors.
  • Medium roast result in amber and copper colors with caramel and nut flavors.
  • Darker roast produce brown and light black colors that and tinged with chocolate and coffee flavors.
  • Heaviest roasts result in black color with stronger, burnt flavors.

Are Dark Beers Higher in Sugar and Calories?

A common myth is that the darker the beer the higher the sugar (and therefore calorie count).  The reason for this perception relates to the relationship between malt and sugar. The majority of craft beers are made up of 75-100 percent base malts, the palest of all malts. Dark malts, by comparison, only make up one to five percent of a recipe. When it comes to dark malt, a small amount goes a long way. That does not always mean that pale beers are lower in sugar and calorie count though.

Are Dark Beers Higher in Alcohol Content?

Yet another common myth is that dark beers are always higher in alcohol content. Once again, while that is often the case, it is not always the case. In fact, the color of a beer has no direct relation to the beer’s alcohol content. Some of the variables that do impact alcohol content include rice, corn, sugar, and malt. Guinness, for example is a black beer that only has 4.2 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) while the extremely pale Golden Monkey, a Belgian-style tripel, has an unusually high 9.5 percent ABV.

Types of Dark Beers

If you have never experienced a dark beer, you are definitely missing out. For those accustomed to lighter beers, you might want to try a black lager first.  Black lagers are the lightest of the dark beers and tend to ranger from 4.2-6 percent ABV. Expect a smooth, crisp, and highly carbonated beer without much of a malt or roasted aroma. Some of the dark American lagers have even less aroma and an even lighter flavor. 

Porters and stouts, also traditionally dark beers, tend to use barley or malt that has been roasted longer, producing coffee, chocolate, toffee, and roasted aromas.  These beers have an ABV in the 4-5 percent range.

Contact Us

If you are a craft beer drinker, visit the Cheers All website to purchase glassware and other merchandise geared toward beer lovers. 

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