What Is Dark Lager? Exploring This Unique Style of Beer

Glass of dark lager beer with foam on table

Whether you’re an avid beer drinker or not, chances are when you see a big glass of dark brown beer, you probably think it’s a porter or a stout. However, it could be another dark brown beer, called dark lager, that offers the same bold look as other dark beers but with a unique flair. Columbia Distributing is a beverage retailer providing bars and restaurants in Washington and Oregon with the beverages their customers want, including dark lagers. Here, we’ll share more about this unique style of beer and its history.

What Is Dark Lager?

To understand dark lager, you first must know what lager is. Lager is the most popular type of beer in the world and many popular beer brands like Miller, Coors Light, and Corona are lagers. Lager is brewed and conditioned at a low temperature with bottom-fermenting yeast, whereas traditional ales are brewed in warmer temperatures with top-fermenting yeast. 

Dark lagers originate in Central Europe, likely in Germany and the Czech Republic where there are cooler climates and many lager yeast strains. There is some variation in the strength and profiles of different dark lagers, but they all tend to have lower alcohol content and a crisp finish. 

Dark Lager Taste

Dark lagers are made with a base of Munich or Vienna malt, which offers a rich and smooth sweetness and a light roasted flavor. Dark lagers feature a balanced flavor profile and a moderate-to-full body with a tad of hop bitterness. Common flavor notes in dark lagers include toasted bread, caramel, toffee, chocolate, and coffee. Dark lagers pair well with a variety of different foods, including seafood, sausage, charcuterie, spicy foods, and chocolate.

Types of Dark Lagers

There are many kinds of dark lager, especially in Europe where the popular style originated. Some of the most common types include:

  • Munich Dunkel: originated in Munich, Germany, and has a low hop bitterness and a smooth, malty flavor that’s slightly sweet.
  • Schwarzbier: originated in northern Bavaria and has a pronounced roasted flavor and slightly higher hop bitterness and dryness than Dunkel.
  • Bock: has a heavier malt profile than other dark lagers but is still slightly sweet.

How Is Dark Lager Prepared?

The word “lager” in German translates roughly to warehouse in English, which relates to the brewing process of the beer. Lagers must go through a process known as cold fermentation, where the beer is stored in chilled tanks for a few weeks to develop the desired clean and crisp flavor. Lagers can be pale, amber, or dark. Dark lager has a similar brewing process to other lagers but with some variations in the fermentation temperatures and malt bill. Dark lager is typically prepared with roasted malts and will have a darker color, more malty flavor, and a fuller body than pale lager.

Contact Columbia Distributing Today

If your bar or restaurant needs a reliable beverage distributor for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, trust the experienced staff at Columbia Distributing. Since 1935, we’ve been providing the beverages bar and restaurant customers want throughout Oregon and Washington with quick delivery and professional service. Contact us to learn more about our services or to start an account today.