Just like people who prefer white wine over red, many beer drinkers will tell you the same, when it comes to light and dark beers. However, this should not dismay your staff. There are many beers on the market that dark beer naysayers may actually love, and that your bartender or server can recommend.
There is a misplaced notion that dark beer is like “drinking your meal,” and is often referred to as liquid bread. In some instances, this can be true. Doppelbock has it’s origins in sustaining monks through their fasts, but there are plenty of dark beers that actually feel quite light.
The change came when breweries realized they could create a beer using mostly pale malts, and adjusting the color with black malts. The following are some good dark beers, that everyone will love!
Westmalle Dubbel: A rich, dark, and complex beer, this beer is built with Belgian yeasts that release fruit and spice notes upon fermentation. The color is derived from caramelized candy sugar, and has a slightly sweet flavor to it. Chimay Red is another honorable mention in this category.
Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro: Lactose is used in this brew, so make sure your staff informs the customer of this when recommending. The milk stout boosts both the sweetness and body of the beer, without the higher alcohol percentage many non dark beer drinkers are avoiding. Like Guinness, it has a distinctive cascading foam when poured. Also consider: The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout as an alternative.
Belhaven: A Scottish ale, Belhaven has the richness from darker malts, yet instead of coffee and flavor notes, it’s a bit lighter, with the taste of toffee and graham crackers. Your staff should know that sweeter darks tend to be lighter, and lower in alcohol. Also try: Odell 90 Shilling Ale, for a similar version.
Hacker-Pschorr Dunkel Weisse: If your non dark beer drinker likes Blue Moon in the summer, than they will love this dark ale. The term ‘dunkel weiss’ literally translates to “dark white,” and it truly lives up to it’s name. The subtle sweetness comes from wheat, with the yeast providing notes of both banana and clove. Another great alternative to this beer is known as: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel.
Rogue Morimoto Black Obi Soba: This beer is exactly like a pale ale, but it’s simply dark instead. Rogue contains notes of resin and pine from the hops, yet contains flavors of rich chocolate. Also look for: Victory Yakima Glory.
After considering some of these dark beers to stock in your bar, you’re going to need a way to display them, especially if you change them out quickly. TapHunter is a great program that offers digital drink menus you can use right from your bar TV. Every time you change out a dark beer (as you and your staff are experimenting) your menu can be updated instantly. Forget about the chalkboards, because with this technology, you can try out new dark beers, in faster ways than ever.
Having an educated staff will help your customers discover new flavor notes, and adopt different beers. When your patrons have open-minded palates, serving them becomes a much easier job. The sky’s the limit!