The notion that darker beers are heavy is a myth that needs blowing up. Darker colour indicates the grain in your beer has been roasted longer – and while that definitely affects flavour, it doesn’t, on its own, make a beer heavier.
The warmer months are definitely a time for lighter beers, but darker brews can also be a great addition to your summer grilling.
Some ambers can have a sweeter, biscuit-like malt profile, but the layers of roastiness in Red Rage from Calgary’s Tool Shed Brewing make it well-suited to grilled fare. The darker malts deliver coffee, dark chocolate and hints of toasted bread crusts.
Bench Creek Brewing’s Northern Grace Red Rye IPA is a good choice for hopheads open to something darker. Although it has the tropical and citrusy hop traits currently popular in IPAs, the malt bill counterpunches with big caramel and toffee flavours and a dash of spicy rye.
For richer meats like bison and elk, Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout from Rogue Ales in Oregon is a robust pick that stands up to the meat without overpowering it. The dark malts are leavened by a sweet, milk-chocolate quality, while the addition of oatmeal gives the beer a silky (read: not heavy) body.
If you’re still afraid of the dark, try Smoked Hefeweizen from B.C.’s Steel & Oak Brewing Co. It has the brighter elements that make hefeweizens refreshing – banana and lightly spicy cloves – but with a wisp of smoke that complements all kinds of food cooked over open flame.