Friday, December 13, 2013

2013 Best of Dark Beers

Throughout 2013 there were not only a lot of new breweries that opened their doors, but also an abundance of new beers that hit tap lines all across Colorado. While the new beers came from new breweries, already established ones were just as active in releasing new beers to the point where craft beer drinkers were always having their thirst’s quenched with new and unique offerings. As the year comes to an end and the weather turns cold we look back at some of the best dark beers from 2013. From porters to stouts here are the best from the past 12 months.
Shake (Boulder Beer Co., Boulder, CO): In a year full of new nano breweries and highly experimental beers it is often overlooked that the original craft brewery in Colorado released some new beers throughout the year as well, like Shake Chocolate Porter from Boulder Beer Co. So what makes this one of the best of the year? It lives up to its name perfectly, starting as a rich dark brown beer with an off white head. This leads into a full bodied beer that is full of chocolate flavor balanced out by a prominent coffee flavor. The richness of the cocoa makes this a hearty beer, and the clean aftertaste makes it very easy to enjoy. Once all is said and done there is nothing fancy to the beer, it is a very straightforward chocolate porter, making it one of the best of the year.
Chocolate Milk Stout (J Wells Brewing, Boulder, CO): In a more industrial part of Boulder within a small warehouse lies a small microbrewery making bold flavored beers, the brewery of course is J Wells. When he opened his doors in 2013 his tap list was minimal, but one of the beers featured was a Chocolate Milk Stout that was full flavored and fit the name perfectly. This was a full bodied beer had a creamy mouth feel making it obvious it was a milk stout, and then there was the primary flavor. This beer had a rich flavor where chocolate was prominent, but the bitterness of coffee was still a subtle undertone. This was a very balanced and traditional version of a classic style stout that had all the great flavor profiles one would expect. Nothing experimental, just traditional making it one of the best stouts from the past 12 months.
Chocolate Cherry Stout (Lone Tree Brewing, Lone Tree, CO): When one thinks of a stout they often expect a dark, full bodied beer full of a roasted coffee flavor. When flavors are added it is typically chocolate, but what about fruit that not only enhances the flavor, but also adds brightness as well? That is what Lone Tree Brewing put on the tap lines earlier this year with their Chocolate Cherry Stout that was also barrel aged. This was a beer where the flavors all complimented each other, and also were visible on their own. The chocolate added richness and enhanced the body of this big beer, and the cherry added a brightness and subtle sweetness. The bourbon barrel aging added a very subtle hint of bourbon, oak, and vanilla creating a complex beer full of flavors. But unlike other complex beers all the flavors in this beer balanced each other out, were still visible, making this easy to drink and unique, also one of the best dark beers of 2013.
Social Club Coffee Milk Stout (The BoB, Englewood, CO): At a place that makes their own craft beer and also serves great coffee drinks it is only fitting that a beer would bring together both their crafts, and that is the case with the Social Club Coffee Milk Stout at The BoB. This beer has a surprisingly light body for a stout and it starts with a subtle sweetness and creamy mouth feel making it a great representation of a milk stout. In addition is all the coffee to compliment the roasted grains. The strong coffee flavor with subtle hints of chocolate make this full flavored with a balance of bitterness, sweetness, and roasted coffee. There are no extra flavors added, just additions that enhance what makes stouts great. Not only is this beer a great late day version of coffee with cream, but it is one of the best dark beers made from the past year.
While those were some of our favorite dark beers there were plenty of other great ones from throughout the year. Some include the Psycho Penguin Vanilla Porter from Odyssey Beerwerks in Arvada, The Ryrish Stout from Mountain Toad in Golden, and Niobrara Stout from Grist. With all the breweries that opened during the course of the year and all the new beers that hit the tap lines the selection was n abundance. For fans of the dark beers there were plenty of great beers to choose from, and with all the great ones from this past year is makes next year looking that much more exciting.

What were some of your favorite dark beers from the year? Let us know at

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