Food & Drink

The 20 best dark craft beers to drink after the sun sets

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Chris Sayer
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Whoever coined the phrase “All good things must come to an end” is gonna feel preeetty stupid by the end of this article. 

I think we can all agree that this meets all the requirements of “good thing”: a sunny Saturday afternoon, surrounded by friends, a large portion of excellence grilling away on your BBQ, and icy beers cascading down your throat. That’s a very good thing. The goodest of all the things, perhaps. 

And yes, sure, as that wise old duffer correctly stated, there comes a time when your guests must go home. When the embers of your fire dampen down and the temperature drops. But should that mean that the “good thing” can’t continue after dark, long into the night, beyond nature’s last orders?

When the time comes, crack out a slew of big, bold and belly-warming dark craft beers, in particular the 20 our crack team of brewski pros have selected below, and not only will you tempt your pals to hang around in your garden indefinitely, but you’ll crank up your internal radiator just enough to forget all about the sun slipping behind the horizon and eradicate any need to ‘call it a night’. Oooosh, that sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Doesn’t that sound lovely.

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Oskar Blues Brewery - Death By Coconut (Porter, 6.5%)

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“Ooof, this a real bad boy. Imagine drinking a liquid Bounty Bar: it’s creamy, chocolatey, with a hint of toasted malts, followed by a beautifully sweet splash of coconut, coffee and a touch of vanilla.” – Tim Jones, founder of beer culture site BeerYeti.com

Fierce Beer - Moose Mousse (Chocolate Porter, 4.5%)

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“Fierce and Brewdog came together to do a big version of this for Collabfest 2017, and it was one of my favourite beers of last year. This ‘everyday’ version of it is just as good. It’s sweet, it’s smooth, and comes in at a low enough ABV that you won’t feel bad going back to the fridge for a second. Or third.” - Justin Hutton, director of The Beer Collective craft beer suppliers

8 Wired - iStout Unchained (Imperial Stout, 12%)

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“8 Wired’s iStout routinely wins awards as the best stout in New Zealand, and for this Unchained version they’ve chucked it into some pinot noir barrels for a few years (along with a bit of brettanomyces for added funk) and made it even better.” – Jen Ferguson, co-founder of Hop, Burns & Black bottle shop

ShinDigger – Iced Coffee (Black Pilsner, 4.8%)

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“This Manchester crew concocted a unique mash-up of two classic summer brews, combining an easy-drinking pilsner with a potent dose of cold brew coffee. Using Ethiopian beans from Ancoats Coffee Company, this one will certainly perk you up with its big flavours and caffeine buzz.” - Brody Rossiter, beer expert at HonestBrew online beer shop

Beavertown - Black Betty (IPA, 7.4%) 

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“It’s a real shame how overlooked black IPAs are, especially when they can be this good. Black Betty is the perfect example. You’re getting a big piney nose, a flavour of light citrus, and a finish with just a hint of roasted notes.” - Martin Oates and Steve Bentall, presenters of the Hopinions beer podcast

Redwillow Brewery - Smokeless (Porter, 5.7%)

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“Infused with chipotles, this brew has won two Gold CAMRA awards. Ready your face for chocolate and coffee with a dash of smoke, and a slightly spicy kick in the finish that begs you to take another sip. A proper warmer.” – Tim Jones, founder of beer culture site BeerYeti.com

Wiper and True - Plum Pudding (Porter, 5.9%)

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“Okay, sure, it’s not Christmas, but that won’t stop me from getting excited about something that tastes like Xmas in a bottle. This is deliciously hoppy and malty, and the spices that sneak through deliver a comforting festive feeling.” - Justin Hutton, director of The Beer Collective craft beer suppliers

Siren - Shattered Dream: Salted Caramel Edition (Imperial Breakfast Stout, 9.1%) 

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“You’re salivating just reading the name, aren’t you. Big roasty dark chocolate bitterness meets smooth caramel sweetness and a lick of salt to produce the beer you’ll dream about for weeks.” – Jen Ferguson, co-founder of Hop, Burns & Black bottle shop

Yeastie Boys – Pot Kettle Black (Porter, 6%) 

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“Massively acclaimed and damn tasty, Pot Kettle Black is a stone-cold Kiwi classic. It’s a perfectly judged combo of rich malt flavours and bright citrusy hop notes, and has the power to convert absolutely anyone to the dark side.” - Brody Rossiter, beer expert at HonestBrew online beer shop

East London Brewery - Vintage Imperial Stout (9.5%)

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“It’s been aged for more than two years, having been brewed back in 2015, and houses a fantastic mix of rich plum, liquorice and bitter coffee flavour, with a sweet dash of treacle. It’s comparable to a fine red wine actually: it’s very strong and complex, and one for special occasions. I reckon it makes for the perfect after-dinner digestive.” – Tim Jones, founder of beer culture site BeerYeti.com

The Kernel - Export India Porter (5.9%) 

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“As with most of their beers, the hops used in The Kernel’s Export India Porter change from brew to brew. Even so, I promise you won’t come across a batch you wont like. Expect a lighter-than-normal porter that has a citrussy aroma to it.” - Justin Hutton, director of The Beer Collective craft beer suppliers

Tegernsee - Quirinus (Doppelbock, 7%) 

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“It’s not dead dark, but the mighty Quirinus is definitely a healthy brown, and right now is the right time to be drinking it. Sweet and malty with just the right amount of bitterness.” – Jen Ferguson, co-founder of Hop, Burns & Black bottle shop

Galway Bay – Solemn Black (Double Black IPA, 9%)

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“An old-school Black IPA that pulls no punches when it comes to packing in the IBUs. Rich, roasty and satisfyingly bitter, it builds upon a solid foundation of six malts with dank, resinous and piney hops.” - Brody Rossiter, beer expert at HonestBrew online beer shop

Saugatuck Brewing Company - Neapolitan Milk Stout (6%)

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“Absolutely love this one. It’s like Neapolitan ice cream - cocoa, with a hint of strawberry, coffee, vanilla and a slightly boozy finish. It’s a cracking combination that still manages to be a well-balanced brew. So good!” – Tim Jones, founder of beer culture site BeerYeti.com

Siren - Broken Dream (Breakfast Stout, 6.5%) 

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“It’s my all-time favourite breakfast stout. There’s so much happening in there - coffee, chocolate, milk and oats makes this like drinking a beautiful smooth chocolate pudding.” - Justin Hutton, director of The Beer Collective craft beer suppliers

The Bruery - Tart Of Darkness (Sour Stout, 6.6%)

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“Sometimes you just have to splash a bit of cash to drink a legend. Almost £25 gets you 750ml of coffee roastiness, vanilla, tart plum flavours and a rich, rounded oakiness from barrel ageing. Worth it, too.” – Jen Ferguson, co-founder of Hop, Burns & Black bottle shop

Laugar – Basatia (Imperial Stout, 8%)

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“A beastly brew from Catalonia. It’s dripping with decadent flavours of chocolate, coffee and dark berries. Indulgently rich, yet not overly potent, coming in at an almost naughty 8% ABV.” - Brody Rossiter, beer expert at HonestBrew online beer shop

Brooklyn Brewery - Black Chocolate Stout (10%) 

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“Dark, rich chocolate, with a fruity and boozy underlay that starts a small fire in your belly. Quite thick, almost like a heavy cup of cocoa, but with a big dangerous kick!” – Tim Jones, founder of beer culture site BeerYeti.com

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Saugatuck Brewing Company - Blueberry Maple Stout (6%)

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“Does exactly what it says on the label - hits of blueberry smoothed out with sweet maple. What it doesn’t say is that once you have one you be crying out for another.” - Justin Hutton, director of The Beer Collective craft beer suppliers

The Kernel - India Double Porter (7.8%) 

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“The Kernel upsizes its iconic Export India Porter to create one of the tastiest beers we’ve had all year - one sip and it instantly became our beer of the week. Roasty, hoppy and full-bodied, they’ve knocked it out of the park yet again.” – Jen Ferguson, co-founder of Hop, Burns & Black bottle shop