This week’s Canadian Craft Beer post comes from our Atlantic Canada craft beer guy, Todd Beal. This week Todd takes a ride on the dark side, visiting the Spindrift and Boxing Rock breweries to explore dark beers, but not the stouts and porters you might expect.

Atlantic Craft Beer: Beers on the Dark Side

As the hours of light shorten, making our days darker, so go many of our fall and winter beer choices. Although we still drink lots of beer that refreshes, we're inside more and have time to enjoy more flavourful beer. We also have hardier meals that can pair better with the bolder flavours.

The colour of beer is related to its malt content and how the malt is processed. To take a step back, the fermentable sugar generally comes from malted barley that's been germinated and kilned. To add additional colour and malt flavour, the malt is roasted. Darker roasting yields brown shades of beer with chocolate and coffee flavours, with heavier roasting giving burnt flavouring and black colour.

Rather than hitting the usual stouts and porters, which I love, I thought I'd write about a couple of lesser-produced styles to bring them to everyone's attention.

This month I go to Dartmouth and historic Shelburne Nova Scotia to check out two leading new breweries.

Spindrift Brewing — Abyss Schwarzbier

Spindrift opened its modern facility in 2015 and has been extremely busy making beer ever since. The Abyss is one of their latest offerings and is a black lager or schwarzbier. Schwarzbiers are drier, darker and roastier than dunkels.

Abyss is a very dark brown in colour and has a great full head that's a surprising light tan. On the nose there's hops and a lot of chocolate and roasted malt. This beer gives a great full mouthfeel and loads of flavour including coffee, chocolate and malt. It has a nice low to medium dryness.

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ABV 4.8 % IBU 25 | Available NS, NB, NL

Boxing Rock Brewing — The Darkness

Atlantic Craft Beer: Beers on the Dark Side

Starting in the town of Shelburne, Boxing Rock has earned itself a top professional standing among brewers.

The Darkness is a Cascadian dark ale, also known as a Black IPA and an India Black Ale (IBA).

The beer is black as night in colour and has a light brown head. The aroma is IPA all the way with hops and a slight roasty malt character. The flavour is bright hops and a lingering bitterness. Beneath it all there are hints of chocolate and dark coffee. The Darkness has a medium mouth feel and is well carbonated.

ABV 6.5 %  | Available NS

Both these beers pair well with a variety of food. The schwarzbier goes well with beef, game and breads and the Cascadian dark stand up well with spicy foods, grilled meat and cheeses.

Still Thirsty?

Check out all our Canada’s Craft Beer articles.

Todd Beal follows the craft beer scene closely in the Canadian Maritimes and reports on it weekly on his blog, Maritime Beer Report. He’s frequently asked to comment on television, newspapers and magazines as a craft beer expert. He can be heard Friday afternoons on News 95.7 commenting on beer. Visit his blog and follow him on Twitter @MaritimeBeerRpt.

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