Beer Man

Five Darker German-Style Beers You Should Drink Right Now

Let the darkness overtake you.
Let the darkness overtake you. Ratio Beerworks
Craft-beer drinkers love to complain; it's part of what give them their special charm. And one of the things they complain most about these days — in the age of New England-style IPAs, dessert stouts and fruit-laden tart beers — is the apparent lack of older, more traditional styles, as well as lighter beers and lagers.

And, yes, there is a dearth of those beers in comparison to the others. But there are some around, and they are getting more popular, albeit slowly. A few breweries, including Prost Brewing, Seedstock Brewing, Wibby Brewing and Tivoli Brewing specialize in German-style lagers, while others enjoy making them as part of their overall lineup.

As winter approaches, a few more breweries have gotten in on the action. Here are five dark, German-style beers (some of them lagers) that you should try right now. They'll warm the heart of even the craftiest curmudgeon.

click to enlarge LONG TABLE BREWHOUSE
Long Table Brewhouse

Bernsteinfarbenes Weisse

Long Table Brewhouse
2895 Fairfax Street
720-486-0927

Tucked into a classic Park Hill neighborhood, Long Table Brewhouse is the definition of a local's spot, but the brewery makes beers that people should travel to find. In this case, it's a Bernsteinfarbenes Weisse. (I'm sorry — a what?) This style differs from other classic Bavarian wheat beers because it is amber in color — and predates the lighter weisses. In Long Table's version, "you'll taste a little more malt presence but also some familiar notes of your favorite hefeweizen: banana, clove and bubble gum," the brewery says. It's a perfect beer for both summer and winter days.


click to enlarge CEREBRAL BREWING
Cerebral Brewing

Crytpic Message

Cerebral Brewing
1477 Monroe Street
303-927-7365

Cerebral Brewing is known for its hazy IPAs, pastry stouts and Brett beers, but the brewery has a side gig making lagers aged in a big wooden foeder. The latest debuts today at noon as part of Cerebral's fourth anniversary. Available in cans and on draft, Crytpic Message (no, that's not a typo) is a 5.1 percent ABV schwarzbier; this German-style dark lager is typically imbibed in the colder months and often includes chocolate or coffee notes.

click to enlarge RATIO BEERWORKS
Ratio Beerworks

Darklands

Ratio Beerworks
2920 Larimer Street
303-997-8288

"Autumn in Colorado can be marked by longer nights and turbulent seasonal shifts," Ratio Beerworks said just before releasing this dark lager on Halloween. Little did the brewery know how true those words would be when temperatures began alternating between the high 60s and the teens. Darklands is dry-hopped with Hallertauer Mittelfrüh hops to give it a "noble hop aroma and a crisp, clean finish," the brewery says. Very dark in color, it also has notes of cocoa bean and dark toasted malt.

BIERSTADT LAGERHAUS
Bierstadt Lagerhaus

Winter Bock

Bierstadt Lagerhaus
2875 Blake Street
720-570-7824

Bierstadt is one of Colorado's premier lager producers, but the brewery doesn't make many styles, preferring to focus on just a few. So when the brewery puts a new one on tap, as it did a few days ago, there's cause for celebration. In this case, the newcomer is a seasonal called Winter Bock. Bierstadt describes it as "dark, delicious, and dangerously smooth for 7.4 percent ABV. It's available in .3-liter, .5-liter, and our favorite tasting size, 1-liter."

click to enlarge GEOFF ALLEN/FUN IS OK
Geoff Allen/Fun Is Ok

DunkelHeist Dunkelweizen

Diebolt Brewing
3855 Mariposa Street
720-643-5940

First brewed on Diebolt's pilot system a few years ago, "this beer was originally know as Dunkelsesh," the brewery explains. "As we went to label the bottles we realized that three cases were missing and deduced that they had been lifted during a party. The incident was dubbed DunkelHeist and we've been calling the beer that ever since." And so it goes. Available for the first time in cans (with labels designed by local beer artist Geoff Allen), the beer was fermented with hefeweizen yeast to give it flavors and aromas of bananas, clove, caramel and chocolate. It "starts out full bodied yet finishes refreshingly dry."
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Jonathan Shikes is a Denver native who writes about business and beer for Westword.
Contact: Jonathan Shikes