In the natural progression of my lager exploration, the next logical step beyond amber lagers (which tend to run golden orange to copper in coloring) comes the Dark Lagers. From the perspective of the Beer Judging Certification Program Style guides, Dark Lagers would include:
- Dark American Lagers
- Munich Dunkels
- and Schwarzbier (aka Black Beer)
Now, while dark beers can be indicative of darker roasted flavors (such as coffee, chocolate, and other similar tastes), this is not always the case. In fact, out of the three beer varieties listed above, one of them is known for having a distinct lack of roasted flavors. That’d be the Dark American Lager.
In fact, when it comes to certain brands of Dark American Lagers, it is not unheard of for the brewers to add coloring agents, sometimes in the forms of syrup, to a standard American lager recipe. While this is not always the case, it does happen. So when drinking a beer along the lines of say, a Heineken Dark, expect the taste of a Heineken, but the look of a Dunkel.
Meanwhile, Dunkels and Schwarzbiers can and do have roasted flavors associated with them, to varying degrees. All of the above should have clean finishes associated with all lagers.