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Craft beer drinkers love to complain; it is part of what gives them their special charm. And one of the things they complain about the most these days – in the age of New England-style IPAs, dessert stouts, and fruity tart beers – is the apparent lack of older, more traditional styles, as well as lighter beers and lagers.
And yes, there is a shortage of these beers compared to the others. But there are some, and they’re growing in popularity, albeit slowly. Some breweries, including Prost Brewing, Seedstock Brewing, Wibby Brewing, and Tivoli Brewing, specialize in German-style lagers, while others like to make them as part of their overall offering.
As winter approaches, a few more breweries have joined the action. Here are five German-style dark beers (some of them lagers) that you should try now. They will warm the heart of even the shrewdest curmudgeon.
Located in a classic Park Hill neighborhood, Long Table Brewhouse is the definition of a pub, but the brewery makes beers people should travel to. In this case it is an amber white. (I’m sorry – a what?) This style differs from other classic Bavarian wheat beers because it’s amber in color – and older than the lighter whites. In the Long Table version, “you can taste a little more malt presence, but also some familiar notes of your favorite wheat yeast: banana, clove and chewing gum,” says the brewery. It’s a perfect beer for both summer and winter days.
Cerebral Brewing is known for its hazy IPAs, pastry stouts, and Brett beers, but the brewery has a part-time job making lager matured in a large wood-burning oven. The latest debut this lunchtime as part of Cerebral’s fourth anniversary. Crytpic Message (no, that’s not a typo) is available in cans and in kegs and is a 5.1 percent vol. This German-style dark lager is usually drunk in the colder months and often contains notes of chocolate or coffee.
“Fall in Colorado can be characterized by longer nights and turbulent season shifts,” Ratio Beerworks said shortly before the release of this dark camp on Halloween. The brewery didn’t know how true those words would be as the temperatures shifted between the high 60s and the teenage years. Darklands is hopped with Hallertauer Mittelfrüh hops to give it a “noble hop aroma and a crisp, clean finish”, according to the brewery. Very dark color, with notes of cocoa beans and dark roasted malt.
Bierstadt is one of the leading lager manufacturers in Colorado, but the brewery doesn’t make many styles and prefers to focus on a few. So when the brewery launches a new one, as it did a few days ago, there is reason to celebrate. In this case, the newcomer is a season called Winterbock. Bierstadt describes it as “dark, delicious and dangerously smooth for 7.4 percent ABV. It is available in 0.3 liter, 0.5 liter and our favorite tasting size, 1 liter.”
First brewed a few years ago on the Diebolt pilot plant, “this beer was originally known as Dunkelsesh,” explains the brewery. “When we were labeling the bottles, we found three cases missing and concluded that they were being lifted during a party. The incident was called DunkelHeist and we’ve been calling the beer that ever since.” And so it goes. Available in cans for the first time (with labels from local beer artist Geoff Allen), the beer has been fermented with Hefeweizen yeast to give it flavors and aromas of bananas, cloves, caramel and chocolate. It “starts out full-bodied and ends refreshingly dry.”
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Jonathan Shikes is from Denver and writes about business and beer for Westword.