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Top 103 Dark Beers

Top 103 Dark Beers

Dark beers are a fascinating and varied subcategory that spans a wide breadth of styles from sours to porters to stouts to black IPAs. Though one's mind might immediately conjure up an image of a pitch-black imperial stout when thinking of dark beers, there are actually far more styles that qualify than those most typically associated with that moniker.

For instance, though the Belgian sour style of Flanders Red actually has the color "red" in its style name, the beer pours more of a rusty brown color than anything else, meaning it qualifies for this list of dark beers on looks alone. That brings to us to how we judged the colors of these beers, which is purely cosmetic: If a beer pours a color that would be deemed as "dark," then it's a dark beer. (Simple, right?)

We have a wide array of styles in this all-encompassing list of the best dark beers we've ever come across -- from the deepest depths of immense barrel-aged stouts to the spicy and flavorful warming aspects of winter seasonal ales, we've got you covered with all the dark beer goodness you could ever want.

So sit back, relax, grab a snifter and enjoy our Top 103 Dark Beers!

(Disclaimer: This list is limited to dark beers that our panel of judges has reviewed rather than every dark beer that has ever existed, which we think would be close to impossible.)


#103

95
by Sal Mortillaro II

Zwart Black Star
De Proef Brouwerij

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#102

95
by Sal Mortillaro II

Pig Porter
Right Brain Brewery

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#101

95
by BC Review

Marshal Zukhov's Imperial Stout
Cigar City Brewing

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#100

95
by BC Review

Monk's Cafe Flemish Sour Ale
Brouwerij Van Steenberge

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#99

95 
by Dan Martich

Llama Mama Milk Stout
Darwin Brewing Co.

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#98

95
by Tom Cannon

Valar Morghulis
Brewery Ommegang

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#97

95
by Michael Heniff
Brewery Lane Series: Imperial Vanilla Porter Aged in Rum Barrels
Breckenridge Brewery

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#96
summit-unchained-sticke-alt.jpg

95 
by Jason Johnson
Unchained #20 Sticke Alt
Summit Brewing Co.

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Brewer Q & A


#95

95
by Michael Heniff

7 Deadly Stouts
Monday Night Brewing

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#94

95
by Tom Cannon

Silva Stout
Green Flash Brewing Co.

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Brewer Q & A


#93

95
by Richard Wong
Santa's Little Helper
Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey

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An Imperial Stout that releases just in time for Christmas, Port Brewing Co.'s Santa's Little Helper is a far more genuine gift than clothing or a generic gift card. Live a little and give the gift of craft beer with this strikingly dark stout that's full of all the boozy and roasty elements of the finest examples of the imperial stout style.


#92

95
by Nelson Crowle
Barrel-Aged Legion
Community Beer Co.

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#91

95
by David Sapsis
pFriem Vienna Lager
pFriem Family Brewers

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#90


95

by Graham L. Barron
30th Anniversary Ale
Bell's Brewery

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#89

95
by Dan Martich

Maibock
Devils Backbone Brewing Co.

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#88

95
by Randy Scorby
Barrel Aged Hibernation
Great Divide Brewing Company

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Brewer Q & A


#87

95
by Tom Cannon

Vanilla Oatis
Ninkasi Brewing Company

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#86

95
by Richard Wong
Highland Charge Bourbon Barrel Aged Wee Heavy Scottish Ale
Heathen Brewing

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#85

95
by BC Review

Celebrator
Brauerei Ayinger

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#84

95
by Michael Heniff
MILF
Mother's Brewing Co.

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A risque beer name that puns on the brewery's name gets the attention of drinkers, but it's the actual beer itself that will keep dark beer fans coming back for more. Flavors of chocolate and raisin mingle with bourbon and rum notes from spending eleven months in barrels.


#83

95
by Richard Wong
Bockness Monster
Upland Brewing Co.

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#82

95
by Tracy Hensley
Twenty Three
Avery Brewing Company

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#81

jolly-roger.jpg

95
by Richard Wong
Jolly Roger Black Lager
Eddyline Brewing

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#80

95
by Tracy Hensley
Wild Turkey Bourbon Barrel Stout
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.

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Brewer Q & A


#79

95
by Sean Coughlin
Declaration
Reformation Brewery

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#78

95
by Brad Darnell
Epitaph Russian Imperial Stout
Heathen Brewing

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#77

95
by Rodney A. Tillinghast
Black Ops
Brooklyn Brewery

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Brewer Q & A


#76

95
by Randy Scorby
Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter
Wild Leap Brew Co.

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#75

95

by Michael Bury
Death By Coconut
Oskar Blues Brewery

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Brewer Q & A

A highly acclaimed dark beer that is delicious and easy to drink, Oskar Blues's Death by Coconut is a terrific brew -- especially if you're a fan of coconut. Even if you're not, this intensely drinkable brew might change your mind after you inhale the delightfully inviting and sweet coconut aroma intermingled with a chocolaty porter base beer style.


#74

95
by John C. Tull
Christmas Pancakes
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

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#73

95
by Jason Johnson
Grandpa's Pipe
Seedstock Brewery

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#72

95

by Jason Johnson
Double Vision Doppelbock
Grand Teton Brewing Co.

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Brewer Q & A


#71

95
by Dan Martich
Campfire Coffee Stout
Gnarly Barley Brewing Co.

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#70

95
by Susan Ruud
The Dweller
Green Man Brewery

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Brewer Q & A


#69

95
by Michael Heniff

Black is Beautiful
Pontoon Brewing

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#68

95
by Joseph Formanek
Coffee Okie
Prairie Artisan Ales

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#67

95
by Michael Heniff
Ground Control
Ninkasi Brewing Co.

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#66

95
by Rodney Tillinghast
On Fleek
Stillwater Artisanal & Casita Cerveceria

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#65

95
by Jason Johnson
La Folie
New Belgium Brewing Company

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Brewer Q & A


#64

95
by Michael Heniff
Christmas Island
Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

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#63

96
by BC Review

Out Of Bounds Stout
Avery Brewing Company

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#62

96
by BC Review

Two Tortugas
Karl Strauss Brewing Company

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#61

96
by Michael Bury

Stranger Danger
Monday Night Brewing

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#60

96
by S.J. Klein
Mocha Porter
Rogue Ales & Spirits

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Brewer Q & A


#59

96
by Tom Cannon

Nut Brown Ale
AleSmith Brewing Co.

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#58

96
by Dan Martich

Jewbelation 22
Shmaltz Brewing Co.

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#57

96
by BC Review

Goudenband
Brouwerij Liefmans

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#56

96
by Dan Martich
Double Bass Mocha Double Chocolate Stout
Starr Hill Brewery

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#55
nectar-knife.jpg

96
by Sal Mortillaro II
Tavern Ale
Big Boss Brewing Co.

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Brewer Q & A


#54

96
by Susan Ruud
pFriem Oud Bruin
pFriem Family Brewers

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#53

96
by Michael Heniff
Nitro Irish Stout
Breckenridge Brewery

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#52

96
by BC Review

Alaskan Smoked Porter
Alaskan Brewing Company

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#51

96
by BC Review

John Barleycorn Barleywine
Mad River Brewing Company

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#50

96
by Nelson Crowle
Maple Barrel Aged Smoked Porter
pFriem Family Brewers

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#49

96
by James Link
Founders Porter
Founders Brewing Co.

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#48

96
by Josh Weikert
Barrel Aged Old Ruffian
Great Divide Brewing Co.

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#47

96
by Brad Darnell
Irish Coffee Barrel-Aged Legion
Community Beer Co.

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#46

96
by Mike Castagno
20 Year Storm
Heavy Seas Beer

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Brewer Q & A


 

 

#45

96 
by Sal Mortillaro II
The Sage
Archetype Brewing

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#44

96

by Tracy Hensley
Vanilla Bean Stout
Avery Brewing Co.

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Brewer Q & A


#43

96 
by Michael Heniff
Pinchy Jeek Barl
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.

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#42
upland-malefactor-flanders-style.jpg

96
by Joseph Formanek
Malefactor
Upland Brewing Co.

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Brewer Q & A


#41

96
by Joseph Formanek
Puff Puff Pastry Stout
Gnarly Barley Brewing Co.

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#40

96
by Randy Scorby
Caramel Cake Stout
Wild Leap Brew Co.

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#39

96
by Jason Johnson
Vintage 2013
Brouwerij Rodenbach

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Brewer Q & A


#38
pogues-run.jpg

96
by Rick Franckhauser
Pogue's Run Porter
Flat12 Bierwerks

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Brewer Q & A


#37

96
by Joseph Formanek
La Trappe Quadrupel Oak-Aged
Trappist Brewery Koningshoeven

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#36

96
by Pat Mulloy
Below Decks
Heavy Seas Beer

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Brewer Q & A


#35

96
by Brad Darnell
Jet Black Scream
Gnarly Barley Brewing Co.

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#34

96
by Michael Bury
KBS
Founders Brewing Co.

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Brewer Q & A


#33

96
by Brad Darnell

East Brother Oatmeal Stout
East Brother Beer Co.

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#32
rodenbach-fruitage-by-brouwerij-rodenbach.jpg

96
by James Link
Fruitage
Brouwerij Rodenbach

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Brewer Q & A

One of the easiest-drinking beers on this list also happens to be one of the most delicious. Rodenbach Fruitage is the first canned beer in the Belgian brewery's venerable history, and they smashed it out of the park on the first try. Lightly fruity, mildly sweet and strikingly tart, this beer is complex enough for beer connoisseurs of all stripes to pick out singularly complex Belgian wild yeast notes, but inviting enough that the sweet and tart combination will keep craft beer neophytes happy as well. Flawlessly produced and worth seeking out at every opportunity.


#31

96
by Michael Heniff
Terrible
Unibroue

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#30

97

by Josh Weikert
Espresso Oak Aged Yeti
Great Divide Brewing Co. 

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Brewer Q & A


#29

97
by Randy Scorby

Situational Ethics - Rye Barrel-Aged Rocky Road Imperial Stout
Monday Night Brewing

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#28

97
by BC Review

Hofbräu Dunkel
Staatliches Hofbräuhaus

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#27

97
by Susan Ruud
Ol' Oi
Jester King Brewery

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Brewer Q & A

Much like the eyebrows of the stately gentleman on this beer's label, Jester King's Ol' Oi can be described as "wild and woolly." An Oud Bruin produced in Austin, Texas, Ol' Oi is tart, quenching and delicious -- featuring plenty of funky and sour elements to keep dark sour fans coming back for more.


#26

97
by Sal Mortillaro II

Situational Ethics Apple Brandy Barrel-Aged
Monday Night Brewing

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#25

97
by Phil Farrell

Fuller's London Porter
Fuller's Brewing

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#24

97
by John C. Tull
Porter Culture
Hops and Grain Brewery

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Brewer & A

A wonderful dark beer that just bridges the gap between American and Baltic Porters in terms of ABV strength and flavor elements, this roasty, chocolaty and sweet Porter is a stunning creation. Produced by Hops & Grain Brewery in Austin, Texas, Porter Culture is another example of an incredible dark beer produced solely in cans.


#23

97
by Tom Cannon

Westmalle Dubbel
Brewery Der Trappisten Van Westmalle

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#22

97
by James Link
Rodenbach Vintage 2015
Brouwerij Rodenbach

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#21

97
by Joseph Formanek
Barrel Aged Imperial Korova
Gnarly Barley Brewing Co.

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#20

97
by John C. Tull
Four Seasons Winter '16
Mother Earth Brew Co.

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#19

97
by Michael Bury
Seedstock Dusseldorf Alt
Seedstock Brewery

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#18
rodenbach-fruitage-by-brouwerij-rodenbach.jpg

97
by John C. Tull
Brewery Lane Series: Barrel Aged Imperial Cherry Stout
Breckenridge Brewery

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A stunning combination of barrel-aged elements, a typically thick and creamy imperial stout base style and montmorency cherries, this inky black brew features a smorgasbord of enjoyable and delicious flavor and aroma combinations. Aged in 50 percent whiskey barrels and 50 percent port wine barrels, the two major ingredients each complement each other: the cherries help to pick up and enhance the port wine barrel and the malt-forward imperial stout elements help to fortify the whiskey barrel notes. Stellar.


#17
​​

97
by Josh Weikert
Wild Sour Series: Flanders Red
DESTIHL Brewery

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Brewer Q & A

Yet another amazing canned dark beer, DESTIHL Brewery out of Normal, Illinois offers one of the finest Flanders Red made on American soil with its Wild Sour Series: Flanders Red. An eye-catching can design prepares drinkers for a zesty, clean beer that features all the complexity and supremely tart character one would expect from a Flanders Red style, all in a container that can be transported with ease and enjoyed on the beach or even tailgating at a summer sporting event. Modern craft beer is great!


#16

97
by Brad Darnell
Imperial Peanut Butter Korova
Gnarly Barley Brewing Co.

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#15

97
by Michael Heniff
Stone Farking Wheaton W00tstout
Stone Brewing Co.

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A yearly collaboration beer between Stone Brewing co-founder and CEO Greg Koch, actor and internet celebrity Wil Wheaton and founder of Fark.com Drew Curtis, this boozy barrel-aged beauty features all of the stylistic elements one would expect from a barrel-aged imperial stout. We reviewed the 2016 release, but this beer has been made since 2013 with various different barrels.


#14
ninkasi-n10.jpg

97
by Michael Heniff
N10 Imperial Blended Ale
Ninkasi Brewing Company

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Brewer Q & A

Perhaps the most complex beer on this entire list, N10 Imperial Blended Ale from Ninkasi Brewing Co. was brewed in celebration of the brewery's 10th anniversary in 2016 and is an incredible blend of five distinctly different beer styles. According to the brewery, N10 is made up of "50% Imperial Stout, 10% Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, 12.5% Imperial Total Domination IPA, 12.5% Imperial Maiden the Shade IPA, and 15% Critical Hit Barleywine." The result is a beer with a caramel malt backbone and enough complexity to keep a drinker engrossed (and enough alcohol content to keep them buzzed) for many hours. With all of those disparate styles, this beer's profile will only develop and change over time, making it an excellent option for aging in a beer cellar.


#13

97
by Jason Johnson
Alexander
Brouwerij Rodenbach

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Brewer Q & A

The highest-scoring sour beer on this list, Brouwerij Rodenbach's Alexander is an exceedingly hard-to-find Flanders Red that features all the delightfully tart and complex elements one would expect from a large-format Rodenbach cork-and-cage 750-ml bottle. Matured in oak casks with sour cherries for 24 months, this beer has been released sparingly and first debuted over 30 years ago in 1986. An exceedingly difficult-to-find white whale, Rodenbach Alexander lives up to the hype and showcases the world-class talents of Rudi Ghequire, Brouwerij Rodenbach's master brewer.


#12

97

by Brad Darnell
Smooth Operator Peanut Butter Porter
Low Road Brewing

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#11

97
by Sean Coughlin
Mexican Empire
Arches Brewing

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#10
funkier-pumpkin.jpg

97

by Dan Preston
Maple Tripple Ale
Lawson's Finest Liquids

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Brewer Q & A

Anyone who's ever visited Vermont knows they have some pretty great maple syrup up there. Any craft beer fan who's visited Vermont knows that Lawson's Finest Liquids produces some of the finest brews in the state (or New England in general). With those two facts in mind, Sean Lawson of Lawson's Finest decided to combine those two things into one of the best dark beers ever conceived. This beer is brewed without water, focusing on barley, hops, ale yeast and using local maple sap from various farms in Vermont. The result is a difficult beer to categorize, but it is certainly dark and certainly delicious.


#9

97
by Pat Mulloy
Vanilla Chai Bourbon Stout
pFriem Family Brewers

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#8

97
by Pat Mulloy
The Partner Ships Series: Stone Brewing Co.
Heavy Seas Beer

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Brewer Q & A

When thinking of dark beers, IPAs do not normally spring to mind. But with so much incredible experimentation going on in the hoppy beer sphere, both Black IPAs and Brown IPAs qualify for this list. This brew is a stunning example of the latter. A collaboration between Heavy Seas and Stone Brewing for the former's Partner Ships Series, this Brown IPA is brewed with blackstrap molasses for a lip-smacking, but never cloying, sweetness that balances beautifully with the hop-forward character of its base style.


#7

97
by James Link
Lone Buffalo
Wild Leap Brew Co.

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#6

97
by Randy Scorby
Parabola
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Brewer Q & A

 Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles, California is world-renowned for its barrel-aged program and perhaps the crown jewel of that collection is Parabola, a Russian Imperial Oatmeal Stout of the highest caliber. We reviewed this beer in 2016, when the base beer was aged in a blend of Elijah Craig, Four Roses, Pappy Van Winkle, Woodford Reserve and Buffalo Trace barrels (what a line-up). The 2017 variant was aged solely in Heaven Hill barrels, but either way, this is a world-class dark beer that's strikingly complex and loaded with rich vanilla flavors and roasty elements.


#5

98
by Phil Farrell 

Gonzo Imperial Porter
Flying Dog Brewery

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Festooned with striking artwork from fabled artist (and Hunter S. Thompson confidant) Ralph Steadman, this intense Baltic Porter lives up to Thompson and Steadman's zany vision. Flying Dog Brewery in Baltimore, Maryland is known for pushing the envelope, and this beer, in all its roasty, toasty glory, certainly fits that bill.


#4

98
by BC Review

Speedway Stout
AleSmith Brewing Company

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 A most beloved Imperial Stout that has spawned numerous variants loaded with adjuncts from AleSmith Brewing Co. in San Diego, California, the original remains one of the gold standards for well-made Imperial Stouts. Finding this one has become easier as the rarer barrel-aged and limited-release offerings make the beer-trading rounds, so do yourself a favor and try this classic if you have not yet been able to. It's even available in cans now!


#3

98
by BC Review

Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier
Brauerei Heller-Trum

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 A smoldering Rauchbier from Bamberg, Germany, Brauerei Heller-Trum's Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier is a standard bearer for the Smoke Beer style. This beer pairs beautifully with rich, savory meats or to drink alongside epic medieval movies or Game of Thrones. Filling, delicious and unique, this dark beer is one of the most unique on the list as world-class Rauchbiers are hard to find in the wild of bottle shops and liquor stores.


#2

98
by Dan Martich

Barrel Aged Brownie Batter Blend #1
Pontoon Brewing

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#1

98
by Joseph Formanek
Bomb!
Prairie Artisan Ales

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And it comes to this. That's right, Prairie Artisan Ales' Bomb! is our best-ever dark beer. An immensely complex and powerhouse Imperial Stout, Bomb! is loaded with complexity from start to finish. An adjunct-filled journey of sensory delight, this 14 percent ABV Imperial Stout is loaded with the following ingredients: coffee, chocolate, vanilla beans and ancho chili peppers. Brewed with an intense malt bill to help support the monstrous amounts of coffee and chocolate, the lilting sweetness of the vanilla mingles playfully with the fiery heat from the chili peppers. Everything comes together beautifully in the end to create an intoxicating cocktail of sweetness, heat and pure, unadulterated craft beer joy. This is a truly magnificent dark beer and serves as a perfect way to cap off our list of the Top 93 Dark Beers we've ever reviewed.