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History of Dark Beers.

by Jordan Hart April 29, 2021 3 min read

History of Dark Beers.

Hey there!

Remember Horrible Histories?

You don’t? You were deprived as a child my friend…

Well, never mind because I’ve got some AMAZING history for you: Dark Beers In celebration of the dark beer and all that it’s done for us, come join us as we take a look at its glorious history. 

Dark beers are typically more popular in the colder seasons, when we all huddle next to each other in warm pubs while a fire crackles by our feet. Dark-coloured, often amber-brewed and occasionally spiced with fall ingredients like pumpkin and Christmas cake, dark beers are the best way to get through those freezing months. 

[ p.s. please share with you drinking buddies ;) ]

 

The History Of Dark Beer:

AH, dunkels. Ah, stouts. Ah porters! How we love ye so. 

The dark beer only really achieved prominence in London drinking dens by the latter part of the 18th century, a century during which pubs started to sell British-produced porters for the first time around 1817.  How did the porters come about? 

Well, 1817 was a pivotal year for the humble dark beer. This was the year the malt roaster was invented. It allowed brewers to dry the malts without needing any wood, and it was responsible for the beer taking on its darker colour. The wood-dried malts allowed these porters to achieve a smokiness that was almost on par with the strong Rauchbiers from Deutschland.  In fact, it’s this reaction that actually adds the sensuous coffee and chocolate notes that we all know and love, and which evoke happy memories of Christmas as we drink our stouts and porters by the fire. 

However, these early dark beers were probably tempered by a degree of sourness, too, primarily because - back then - the barrels were nowhere near as air-tight as they are now.  As time passed, the stout was fashioned out of the porter. It was stronger than the porter and had a bolder flavour. Previously, any strong beer was known as a stout, but around this time it became almost synonymous with a strong porter. 

As Britain moved into the 19th century, though, the porter decreased in popularity while the stout went the other way. Drinkers took a shine to it and it was out of this popularity that Guinness emerged. Stouts weren’t the only dark beer to leverage the success of the porter. There was also a strong Baltic version that proved popular in countries like Sweden, Poland, Lithuania and Russia. Curiously enough, it was technically a lager.  Other creations included the milk stout that remains popular today, as well as the formidable Russian Imperial stout that quenched the thirst of the Russian aristocracy in the 19th century. There are also now pumpkin beers and oatmeal stouts.

Here are two dark nuggets to check out before you go:

Titanic Plum Porter (Abv 4.9%). This full-bodied plum porter is sweet, fruity and can be bought online. It’s also available on tap in select pubs up and down the UK (City Lights in Manchester currently has it). 

Black Chocolate Imperial Stout (Abv 10%). Produced by Brooklyn Brewery, this is one of those fearsome Russian Imperial Stouts that sports a menacingly deep colour of black. One to be savoured. 

I don’t know about you, but all this dark beer chat has got me in the mood for some dark beers!



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