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All about dark lager
What is dark lager beer?
Dark lager is a beer style that has much in common with traditional light lager beer, the difference being that brewers use a dark instead of light malt. Originally from Germany and the Czech Republic, these popular lagers now also come from numerous American breweries. Dark lagers have a light and sometimes slightly sweet taste. Lightly carbonated, dark lagers have a mid-range alcohol content between 5% and 6.9%.
Brewers brew dark lager beer using bottom fermentation and lager yeasts. Historically, all lagers were dark as brewers only had access to dark malts, something that changed in the 19th century. The term "lager" refers to the process of lagering, or laying down, of the beer, sometimes for several months. Many brewers use water with a high carbonate content, such as those found near Munich, that's responsible for its soft taste and carbonation.
European dunkel and schwarzbier beer
Traditional dunkel beer comes from Bavaria. The word "dunkel" simply means dark, a reference to its color, which may vary between red-tinted amber to mahogany. These dark lagers have a nutty flavor and are crisp without being bitter. Schwarzbier lager comes from the Thuringia area to the east of Frankfurt. "Schwarzbier" means black in German and refers to the very dark color of the beer. These beers have a slightly bitter taste with a smooth roasted malt flavor and a low alcohol content.
American dark lagers
American dark lagers differ from their European counterparts in that the beer is somewhat lighter with a slightly sweet caramel taste. Sometimes known as international dark lager, this form of beer has a lighter hue than other dark lagers and is best served slightly chilled.
The term "seasonal lager" refers to beers brewed using seasonal ingredients or at certain times of the year. For example, Märzen beer, brewed in spring, gets its name from the month of March. It's aged over summer for consumption in autumn. It shares many similarities with Oktoberfest beer brewed in time for the annual October celebrations, and it's rich in malt with a slightly bitter taste.