Wednesday, 30 September 2015 09:50

Best New (Dark) Beers of 2015

Written by  Joe Boomgaard
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Hail To The darkness: Bourbon barrel aged imperial porter from Acrlight Brewing Co. Hail To The darkness: Bourbon barrel aged imperial porter from Acrlight Brewing Co. PHOTO: Joe Boomgaard

Peter Steele (R.I.P.) may have been singing about a popular hair dye in Type O Negative’s goth classic “Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)” but the appreciation of all things dark can certainly carry over to beer as well.

Dark beers — typically stouts, porters and black ales — bring out the best in roasted flavors as well as chocolatey, smoky and hearty — or hoppy, as is the case with black IPAs. They’re the perfect beers for any time of year, really, and they pair well with many different types of foods, including desserts. Hell, some of them can even be dessert.

Revue wanted to call out some of the best of the dark brews that came out this year. So put some black metal on the turntable (may I suggest King Diamond) and turn yourself over to the darkness. Don’t be scared.

Black Rye
Founders brought back this cult classic after what seemed like an eternity in Purgatory, even though it was only brewed for about a year circa 2006. Black Rye drinks similar to a black IPA thanks to the dry-hopping with a blend of German- and American-grown hops, but it has a strong backbone thanks to the addition of “copious amounts of rye malt.”

Brewer: Founders Brewing Co.,
Grand Rapids
Style: Rye beer
ABV: 7.5%
Availability: January-March (Hey, at least now there’s something to look forward to when we’re up to our armpits in snow and it’s -10°F outside.)

Hail to the Darkness
The team at Arclight developed a winning combination by first brewing an imperial porter and then aging it in 12-year-old oak Elijah Craig bourbon barrels. The resulting flavor showcases a mix of vanilla bourbon notes with a warming hug of dark chocolate with each and every sip. Hail yes!

Brewer: Arclight Brewing Co., Watervliet
Style: Imperial porter
ABV: 8.7%
Availability: Limited releases throughout the year, including 750 ml bottles dipped in red wax (praise our dark lord!) for better long-term cellaring.

No Rules
You might be entering a world of pain if you drink too much No Rules in one sitting, but don’t even be tempted to mark this beer as a zero. Some might say Perrin’s brewers were “OVER THE LINE!!!” for coming up with such a bold beer that’s brewed with coconut and turbinado sugar and aged in bourbon barrels. But after all, this is a league game and No Rules is in a league of its own.

Brewer: Perrin Brewing Co.,
Comstock Park
Style: Imperial porter
ABV: 15%
Availability: Limited release in bottles. You’ll just have to hit pause on the Big Lebowski and head over to the taproom, dude.

(The Magician)
It’s the black IPA from Bell’s that spawned a thousand bad puns. You wish you had Uranus in your mouth right now. Why not crack open two bottles so you can double-fist Uranus? It’s that good. But don’t pound Uranus too quickly. Rather, you want to ease into Uranus sip by sip to enjoy the subtle chocolate notes. (Jesus, you sickos: It’s a beer.)

Brewer: Bell’s Brewery Inc., Galesburg
Style: Imperial black IPA
ABV: 9.5%
Availability: One time release as part of Bell’s Planet Series.

Obsidian Stout
Satan heard our prayers, or at least he heard mine when I cried out longingly for this beer. Obsidian may be a shelf beer (i.e., a flagship brand) from Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery, but it’s arguably one of the best stouts available 365 days a year. Finally, as of early September, Obsidian is now available in West Michigan. Turn yourself over to Obsidian’s rich, espresso and dark chocolate flavors. There’s no going back.

Brewer: Deschutes Brewery, Bend, Ore.
Style: Stout
ABV: 6.4%
Availability: Every dark and glorious day of the year.

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