10 Best Dark Beers You Must Try

Forget the sunshine, embrace the roast! Our guide unlocks the boldest, most flavourful dark beers for your taste bud thrill ride.

Published On Jun 23, 2024 | Updated On Jun 23, 2024


Have you ever stared up at a night sky, so dark and inky it feels like a blanket? That's the kind of vibe dark beers give off, but way tastier! These brews aren't just about colour, though. They're brewed with roasted malts that unlock a whole new flavour spectrum – think coffee, chocolate, even a hint of smoke. And guess what? The Indian, as well as international craft beer scene, is going wild with these dark beauties. 

We're talking stouts and porters with a kick of local spices, porters smooth as butter chicken, and brown ales that whisper of tropical fruits. Ready to ditch the predictable and dive into the mysterious world of dark beers? Let's go! But before that let’s answer what is Dark Beer?

Dark beer is a broad category of beers defined by their rich colour, ranging from deep amber to almost black. This dark hue cmes from specially roasted malts, which not only darken the beer but also impart complex flavours like chocolate, coffee, caramel, and roasted nuts.  

Unlike lighter beers that focus on refreshment, dark beers tend to be fuller-bodied and more flavorful, making them a favourite for those who enjoy a bolder drinking experience. There are many varieties of dark beers, from the roasty stouts and porters to the more subtle dunkel lagers.


The Briggs Brewery Stout Alchemy is a dark beer that isn't your standard roasty stout. It leans towards the Irish Dry Stout style, a lighter-bodied and drier option compared to its more intense counterparts. Brewed in India by Briggs Brewery, this dark beer takes an interesting turn. Unlike most Irish Dry Stouts that rely on British malts, Briggs throws a Belgian twist into the mix.  This choice of Belgian malts adds a subtle layer of complexity, hinting at fruity esters alongside the classic dark beer notes of chocolate, coffee, and caramel.  

While the official ABV remains a bit elusive, online reviews suggest it sits around 5%, making it a great choice for those who want to enjoy the dark beer experience without getting overwhelmed. Popularity-wise, the Stout Alchemy might not be a household name, but its exclusive Belgian influence and focus on drinkability have garnered a loyal following amongst Indian craft beer enthusiasts. So, if you're seeking a dark beer that offers both familiarity and a surprising twist, the Briggs Stout Alchemy can just be your next delicious adventure.

Goa Brewing Company/ Instagram 

Craving a beer that breaks the breakfast-to-brews barrier? Look no further than the Breakfast Cereal Stout by Goa Brewing Company. This innovative dark beer isn't your typical pub fare. Born in the sunshine state of Goa, India, this stout takes a playful approach to brewing. They ditch the usual focus on purely roasted malts and incorporate some unexpected breakfasty elements – think rice puffs, oats, lactose (milk sugar for a touch of sweetness), and even cornflakes.

This combination creates a beer that's dark and roasty like a classic stout, but with a hint of sweetness and a surprising textural creaminess thanks to the lactose and oats. Clocking in at a moderate ABV of around 4.8%, it's an easy drinker that won't leave you feeling weighed down. While not the most mainstream dark beer, the Breakfast Cereal Stout has become a beloved choice among Indian craft beer fans, particularly those seeking a fun and flavorful twist on the traditional stout style.

The brewing company even upped the ante with a limited-edition collaboration featuring Sleepy Owl Coffee, bumping the ABV to 6.5% for a more intense experience. So, if you're searching for a dark beer that's both playful and delicious, the Breakfast Cereal Stout might just become your new favourite morning (or anytime) beverage.

Bira 91/ Instagram

If you ever wished your morning cup of joe had a boozy kick, then the Malabar Stout by Bira 91 can be your new best friend. This innovative dark beer isn't just brewed in India, it draws inspiration directly from the country's rich coffee heritage. Bira 91 partners with Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters to incorporate beans sourced from the Malabar Hills, a region renowned for its unique coffee flavours.  

These beans are no afterthought – they're a key ingredient in the brewing process, infusing the Malabar Stout with a bold coffee character. The result? A dark and roasty brew that's lighter-bodied than some traditional stouts. Expect a flavour explosion of roasted malts mingling with the tropical, robust notes of coffee, creating a taste that's reminiscent of a cold brew with a pleasant kick.

Coming in at a moderate 7.5% ABV, it's a satisfying sipper that's perfect for enjoying after dinner or on a cooler evening. While not the most obscure dark beer, the Malabar Stout's unique coffee twist and focus on drinkability have made it a popular choice among Indian craft beer enthusiasts and coffee aficionados alike. So, if you're looking for a dark beer that bridges the gap between your beer cravings and your coffee habit, the Malabar Stout is worth exploring.


Originating from India, Simba Stout is brewed using a generous amount of roasted malts, giving it that characteristic deep brown or black colour. While the exact ABV isn't widely available, some online hints suggest it falls around the 6-7% range, placing it squarely in traditional stout territory. This means you can expect a full-bodied beer with a rich, roasty flavour profile potentially featuring notes of espresso coffee, chocolate, and caramel.  As for popularity, Simba Stout might not be a craft beer superstar, but it likely caters to a steady following who appreciate a straightforward and satisfying dark beer experience. If you're in India and looking for a no-frills, roasty dark brew, Simba Stout could be your next pub discovery.

Deschutes Brewery/ Instagram

Deschutes Black Butte Porter, a cornerstone brew for Deschutes Brewery, hails from Bend, Oregon, in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.  First brewed in 1988, this American Porter boasts a moderate 5.2% ABV.  As for flavour, expect a rich and complex experience. Dark chocolate and roasted coffee notes take centre stage, balanced by a touch of caramel sweetness.  The creamy mouthfeel adds to the enjoyment, making it a well-rounded and satisfying dark beer.

Alaskan Brewing/ Instagram

Alaskan Smoked Porter, a pioneering American smoked beer, originates from the Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau, Alaska. Debuting in 1988, this unique brew holds a moderate 6.5% ABV. The star of the show is the smoky character, imparted by meticulously smoked malts over local Alderwood. Hints of chocolate and caramel weave through the smokiness, creating a complex and balanced taste. Unlike most beers, Alaskan Smoked Porter is released annually in November and can age well, developing richer flavours over time.

Bell's Brewery/ Instagram

Bell's Expedition Stout, a titan in the American dark beer scene, comes from Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  First brewed in 1989, this Russian Imperial Stout is a heavyweight with a hefty 10.5% ABV. Flavours are designed to evolve, thanks to the generous use of malt (double that of their Kalamazoo Stout) and a hoppy punch (five times more hops!). Expect a robust and complex profile dominated by notes of dark chocolate, dried fruit, and a pleasant bitterness. This brew is a favourite among cellarable beers, where the flavours meld and mature over months or even years.  Look for it on shelves from October to March.

Stone Brewing / Instagram 

Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous, a sought-after cult classic, hails from Stone Brewing in Escondido, California. Originally released in 2007 as their 11th Anniversary Ale, this Black India Pale Ale (IPA) holds a powerful 8.7% ABV.  The name hints at Stone's pride in this unique creation, which blends the boldness of American IPAs with the roasty character of dark beers. Expect a complex taste profile with citrusy and piney hop aromas balanced by dark chocolate, coffee, and caramel notes from the roasted malts. This full-bodied and intensely flavorful beer was a regular on shelves for several years before retiring in 2015. Due to overwhelming demand, Stone has brought it back in limited releases, making it a special treat for craft beer enthusiasts.

Jack's Abby Brewing/ Instagram

Jack's Abby Smoke & Dagger, brewed in Framingham, Massachusetts, is a year-round offering that defies easy categorization. This smoky black lager boasts a moderate 5.8% ABV. The magic lies in the use of traditional brewing techniques alongside innovative twists. Deep amber in colour, Smoke & Dagger offers a smooth, easy-drinking experience. Smoky notes mingle with rich, roasted malt character, hints of chocolate, and a touch of caramel sweetness. This unique brew is perfect for those seeking a complex yet approachable dark beer, ideal for enjoying any time of year.


Crafted by Zero Gravity Craft Brewery in Boise, Idaho, Zero Gravity Extra Stout is an Irish Dry Stout best enjoyed when the weather cools down. Clocking in at a moderate 5.9% ABV, this dark beer boasts a complex aroma of roasted coffee and chocolate. The first sip delivers rich flavours derived from roasted barley, with hints of dark chocolate lingering on the palate. Unlike some stouts that can be heavy and sweet, Zero Gravity Extra Stout finishes dry, making it a refreshing and easy-drinking option for those who enjoy a roasty yet balanced dark beer experience.

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