10 Best Dark Beer Brands 2019 | Today Top Reviews Today Top Reviews

10 Best Dark Beer Brands

The craft beer explosion has reinvigorated excitement around different beers. Some beers that, two decades ago, might have been destined to fade into history, suddenly found new popularity. This is especially true for dark beer, like stouts and porters.

Thanks to the craft beer revolution, there is a dazzling array of dark beers to choose from. In this list, we hope to help you narrow your next search for the best dark beer.

Dark Beer Comparison Table

Product

Product Image

Price

Guinness Extra Stout

Guinness Extra Stout

Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre (Belgian Style Brown Ale)

three dark beer bottles of Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre (Belgian Style Brown Ale)

Bell’s Expedition Stout

Bell’s Expedition Stout

Allagash Black Belgian Style Stout

a bottle and glass of Allagash Black Belgian Style Stout dark beer

Brouwerij Van Steenberge Gulden Draak (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)

three different bottles of Brouwerij Van Steenberge Gulden Draak (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)

Keegan Ales’ Mother’s Milk Stout

Keegan Ales’ Mother’s Milk Stout

Grimm Sumi Zest (Imperial Stout)

Grimm Sumi Zest (Imperial Stout)

Brasserie Dupont Monk’s Stout

Brasserie Dupont Monk’s Stout

Brasserie Dupont Monk’s Stout

DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus! (Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter)

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout

Dark Beer FAQ

dark beer poured into a glass

Image via Pexels

What Is Dark Beer?

What Are the Most Popular Types of Dark Beer?

What Is the History of Dark Beer?

How Is Dark Beer Made?

Are Dark Beers Stronger?

How We Reviewed

The following dark beers were reviewed based on the following parameters Features, Pros & Cons, Price, Where to Buy, and Food Pairings.

Overall Price Range of This Product (and Similar Products)

The price for the top ten dark beers ranges from $ for a six-pack to $$$ for a single 12-ounce bottle. Some of the beers are mass-produced around the world, while others are limited-production and imported.

four people drinking beers

Image via Unsplash

What We Reviewed

  • Guinness
  • Dogfish Head
  • Bell’s
  • Allagash
  • Brouwerij Van Steenberge
  • Keegan Ale
  • Grimm
  • Brasserie Dupont
  • DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus
  • Hitachino Nest

Guinness Extra Stout

Guinness Extra Stout

Image source: guinness.com

Flavor

Guinness’ Stouts are undeniably the leader of the dark beers. If you are in an establishment that doesn’t focus on craft beers, this will often be the only dark beer available to choose from. Many dark beer fans love the froth and bold, slightly bitter flavor of a Guinness.

Pros

  • Subtle chocolate and coffee flavors
  • Mellow profile
  • Satisfying creamy froth
  • Fewer calories than many other beers (126 calories for 12 ounces)

Cons

  • Salty taste
  • Not as robust or bold as many other stouts

Price

You can find a 6-pack of Guinness online for around $.

Food Pairings

Guinness Extra Stout goes well with oysters, beef and chocolate.

Where to Buy

Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre (Belgian Style Brown Ale)

three dark beer bottles of Dogfish Head Raison d’Etre (Belgian Style Brown Ale)

Image source: dogfish.com

Flavor

The Delaware-based brewery, Dogfish Head, has made a name for itself by creating unique, sometimes recreated ancient beer recipes with some dating back even thousands of years. The Raison d’Etre may not be an ancient recreation, but it is an incredibly satisfying brew with sweet, fruity flavors. Be very careful when enjoying this one, however. Its alcohol by volume (ABV) can reach a staggering 18% in the ramped-up Raison d’Extra version!

Pros

  • Brewed with raisins and beet or brown sugar
  • Sweet, fruity aromas
  • Crisp flavor profile
  • Long finish

Cons

  • ABV of Raison d’Extra prevents distribution in some states
  • Might be too sweet for some
  • Expensive since it has been discontinued
  • 220 Calories

Price

This product can be found online for $ for a single 12-ounce bottle.

Food Pairings

The ‘reason for being’ of the Raison d’Etre is to be paired with steak. It also goes well with blue and goat cheeses as well as mussels.

Where to Buy

Bell’s Expedition Stout

three bottles and glasses of Bell’s Expedition Stout

Image source: bellsbeer.com

Flavor

Bell’s Expedition Stout was one of the very first Russian Imperial stouts to come to the United States. Like many imperial stouts, its ABV is higher than most beers at 10.5%. This dark beer is specially formulated to be aged to perfection over months and years in a cellar.

Pros

  • Complex flavor profile
  • Ages well in a cellar
  • Chocolate, espresso and fruit flavors
  • Bourbon-barrel aged variety can be consumed immediately

Cons

  • Will be bitter if you drink the original Expedition within the first few months after purchase
  • 383 calories per 12 ounces
  • Expensive if looking to purchase and drink immediately

Price

The ready-to-drink Bourbon Barrel Aged Expedition Stout will run close to $$$ for a single 12-ounce bottle. A six-pack of the original Expedition Stout will cost about $$ online.

Food Pairings

Pairs well with dark chocolate, pecan pie, and raspberry tarts.

Where to Buy

Allagash Black Belgian Style Stout

a bottle and glass of Allagash Black Belgian Style Stout dark beer

Image source: allagash.com

Flavor

Allagash Brewing Company set out to create a “Belgian traditional stout” by mixing the best aspects of stouts and traditional Belgian ales. This dark beer is brewed with far more than the traditional roasted barley, and includes wheat, oats, chocolate malt, black malt, and hops. The oats give it a very satisfying creamy mouthfeel.

Pros

  • A mixture of Belgian ales and stouts
  • Rich dark chocolate, coffee, and fruity flavors
  • Nutty toffee and caramel aromas
  • 7.5% ABV

Cons

  • Should be consumed within a year
  • Strong, unbalanced bitterness at the finish
  • 225 Calories per 12 ounces

Price

Allagash can be purchased in stores for around $ per 25-ounce bottle. Alcohol laws prevent it from being more widely available via online shopping.

Food Pairings

Allagash black stouts go well with steak.

Where to Buy

Brouwerij Van Steenberge Gulden Draak (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)

three different bottles of Brouwerij Van Steenberge Gulden Draak (Belgian Strong Dark Ale)

Image source: vansteenberge.com

Flavor

This rich, sweet dark Belgian ale is rather high in alcohol content after being fermented twice. The sweet, full-bodied flavors led some to nickname this ale “Barley Wine.”

Pros

  • Bold and smooth
  • Caramel, toffee and vanilla flavors
  • Full body and creamy head
  • Earthy bitterness with a slight hoppiness

Cons

  • Unfiltered
  • Bitter, hoppy finish isn’t for everyone
  • 10.5% ABV
  • 215 calories per 12 ounces

Price

You can purchase a four-pack online for around $$.

Food Pairings

Gulden Draak works best with dark chocolates and red meats.

Where to Buy

Keegan Ales’ Mother’s Milk Stout

Keegan Ales’ Mother’s Milk Stout

Image source: keeganales.com

Flavor

The Mother’s Milk Stout from Keegan Ales was named one of the top ten North American stouts by the New York Times. This dark beer has been so popular that they’ve created two spinoffs: a bourbon-barrel aged Milk Stout and another made with cold-brewed coffee (Joe’s Mama’s Milk). The original has the ever-popular chocolate and coffee flavors, and the milk stout gives it a sweet taste and extra creamy finish.

Pros

  • Chocolate, oatmeal, coffee, and milk flavors
  • Smooth and creamy
  • Well balanced and medium bodied
  • Slight bitter finish
  • 5-6% ABV
  • 170 Calories per 12 ounces

Cons

  • Smoky, roasted taste may be off-putting to some
  • A mildly sour flavor from lactose
  • Loses some flavor in bottles as opposed to draft

Price

Keegan Ales’ Mother’s Milk Stout can be purchased online or in stores for between $ and $ for a six-pack.

Food Pairings

Mother’s Milk goes well with steak, barbecue, cheddar, and chocolate and espresso desserts.

Where to Buy

Grimm Sumi Zest (Imperial Stout)

Grimm Sumi Zest (Imperial Stout)

Image source: grimmales.com

Flavor

If you’re looking for something different from the wealth of chocolate, coffee flavored stouts, look no further than the Grimm Sumi Zest Imperial Stout. This dark beer went with a vanilla focus instead of only chocolate and orange instead of coffee.

Pros

  • Airy and mellow for a dark beer
  • Balanced vanilla and chocolate flavors
  • Light orange aroma
  • Tangy flavor profile
  • Well balanced

Cons

  • Orange flavor might be too subtle
  • Less bold than most imperial stouts
  • Limited release is expensive and difficult to find
  • 11.5% ABV

Price

A 22-ounce bottle of Sumi Zest goes for around $ online.

Food Pairings

This sweet stout would go well with a chocolate mousse or cheesecake.

Where to Buy

Brasserie Dupont Monk’s Stout

Brasserie Dupont Monk’s Stout

Image source: brasserie-dupont.com

Flavor

This stout is Brasserie Dupont’s effort to recreate a 1950s era recipe from their archives. As such, this dark beer doesn’t jump onto recent trends but sticks to the bitter, slightly hoppy espresso flavors of the stouts of yesteryear.

Pros

  • Malty, espresso flavors   
  • Sweet, woody aromas
  • Available year-round
  • 5.2% ABV
  • 156 Calories

Cons

  • Some dark beer fans will not like the bitter hoppy tones
  • Watery mouthfeel

Price

The Monk’s Stout can be purchased for about $ for an 11-ounce bottle.

Food Pairings

Monk’s Stout goes best with pork loin, sushis, crab and shrimp, and blue cheese.

Where to Buy

DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus! (Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter)

DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus! (Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter)

Image source: duclaw.com

Flavor

DuClaw has been making waves with its Sweet Baby Jesus! Peanut Butter Porter. Other than the bold peanut butter and chocolate flavors,

Pros

  • Peanut butter, chocolate, and espresso flavors
  • Full-bodied
  • Sweet and bitter is well-balanced
  • Smooth and creamy
  • Available year-round
  • 6.5% ABV

Cons

  • Very heavy
  • Small, uneven froth
  • 195 Calories

Price

The Sweet Baby Jesus! Porter can be found online for around $.

Food Pairings

Paired with some ice cream, this beer would make an amazing dark beer float.

Where to Buy

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout

Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout

Image source: hitachino.cc

Flavor

If you want a rich, bold coffee flavored stout, Hitachino Nest has what you seek. The coffee flavors here are strong and accompanied by vanilla, a little chocolate, and black currants and other dark fruits. The Imperial Stout base gives it the extra richness that stout fans know and love.

Pros

  • Rich and Bold
  • Perfect for coffee-lovers
  • Chocolate and black currant flavors
  • Tall, creamy froth
  • Well-balanced
  • 7.0% ABV

Cons

  • Sharp, bitter, herbal finish
  • Vanilla is hard to detect
  • 225 Calories

Price

You can purchase this Japanese dark beer online for around $ for an 11-ounce bottle.

Food Pairings

The Hitachino Nest Espresso Stout would go well with roasted chicken or bread pudding.

Where to Buy

The Verdict

man refilling a glass of beer

Image via Pexels

When you’re searching for a new, fantastic dark beer to try, there can be a dizzying amount of beers to choose from. We’ve listed 10 of the top dark beers, though the beers vary in their availability and price.

The best beer for those looking for a rich, bold, dessert beer should go for DuClaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus! Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter. Not only is it an affordable option to experiment with, but it also offers a well-balanced sweetness.

Keegan Ale’s Mother’s Milk Stout is a solid, smooth and creamy stout option for dark beer fans of all stripes. For those who are not a fan of the darkest of beers, the Brouwerij Van Steenberge Gulden Draak is an excellent option. It is bold, earthy and slightly hoppy with sweet caramel notes.

Dedicated beer connoisseurs will want to go out of their way to purchase Bell’s Expedition Stout. Once this dark beer has aged for a year or more, the flavors and aromas develop a level of creamy, complexity that is hard to find from any dark beer straight off the shelf. Whatever your dark beer craving, you should find some inspiration for your next trip to the beer store.

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