Dark/Black Lagers

It’s difficult enough differentiating between Schwarzbiers and Dunkels (is there an easy way) but how do people then work out which beers should be Dark - Premium Lager?

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It says PREMIUM LAGER in big letters on the label.


The International Dark Lager, sometimes also marketed as Premium Dark Lager, is a darker and somewhat sweeter version of international pale lager with a little more body and flavor, but equally restrained in bitterness. The low bitterness leaves the malt as the primary flavor element, and the low hop levels provide very little in the way of balance. Often either a colored or sweetened adaptation of the standard pale industrial lager, or a more broadly accessible version of more traditional dark lagers. Less flavor and richness than Munich Dunkel, Schwarzbier, or other dark lagers. Frequently uses adjuncts, as is typical of other International Lagers.

The Munich Dunkel is characterized by depth, richness and complexity typical of darker Munich malts. Deep copper to dark brown, deeply bready-toasty malt-balanced beer, often with chocolate-like flavors. Not as intense in maltiness as a bock, lacking the more roasted flavors of a Schwarzbier. Richer, more malt-centric, and less hoppy than a Czech Dark Lager. The Czech Dark Lager, or Tmavý, is a rich, dark, malty Czech lager with a roast character that can vary from almost absent to quite prominent, with variable levels of hopping but typically with greater malt richness and hop character than the Dunkel. This style includes the Tmavý Výčepní, the Tmavý Ležák and Tmavé Speciální pivo styles.

The Swarchzbier, also called Black Lager, is a medium to very dark colored German lager that balances roasted yet smooth malt flavors with moderate hop bitterness. The lighter body, dryness, and lack of a harsh, burnt, or heavy aftertaste helps make this beer quite drinkable. In comparison with a Munich Dunkel, it is usually darker in color, drier on the palate, lighter in body, and with a noticeable roasted malt edge to balance the malt base. It is also drier, less malty, with less hop character than a Czech Dark Lager.

Usually, the label or the asking what the brewer intented to brew will help too


One thing I would say is definitely do not follow untappd’s lead on any styles with respect to dark lagers. Their categorization is terrible and things are constantly put in wrong categories (even more so than in other styles, I feel).


Schwarzbiers will typically have a greater roast component and silky/creamy mouthfeel relative to dunkels. I can usually tell the two apart; however, KC Bier’s dunkel did admittedly seem like a schwarz to me, so these aren’t 100% principles.

In most countries there is no difference between dunkel and dark premium lager. The top rater of this “style” has rated 11 dark premium lagers, i think this should indicate how useless the style is. And no it is not because the styles are still a big mess - the new styles that were actually needed have a lot of ratings. For example top rater of imp. stout flavored ~500 ratings, ipa hazy ~750 ratings, kvass ~100 ratings etc.

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Yep, there are so few that the top 50 list for the style is a top 24 list and a beer only has to score at least 2.26 to make the list. Top indeed :joy: