Join Club

Your Beermonger: The Darker Side of Lager

Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).

Last week we looked at the most common forms of traditional German Lager found today. This week we’re going to run through some of the maltier and stronger styles of Lager out there, and look at examples of each that shouldn’t be too difficult to come by.

The irony is that Dark Lagers were the standard before the lighter Munich and Helles styles came to the fore. Today, many consumers tend to shy away from darker beers as they perceive ‘darker’ as being ‘overwhelmingly strong’ or ‘too flavorful’ (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this over the years; it still baffles me) but that isn’t necessarily the case. A great Dark Lager can give you all the smoothness and refreshment of a lighter one but with just a little added complexity, and often they make for great food pairings as well. Here’s a quick rundown to help you navigate the often baffling world of German beer labels:

Schwarzbier: Literally, “black beer.” Perhaps the single style of all of these that merits the most consideration by the American audience. Schwarzbiers get some intensely dark color from their malts, but tend not to overdo it with the roasty notes associated with malty beers. Monschof and Kostritzer are the two Germans to look for, but my go-to is Session Black Lager by Oregon’s Full Sail brewery.

Doppelbock: Bocks are stronger style Lagers (which we’ll be exploring further next week) and Doppel= “double.” Doppelbocks are the style of Dark Lager you’ll encounter the most here in the States, and while by definition they are stronger they are by no means all bruisers. The malt in Doppelbock tends to be a bit roastier and more chocolaty but the best examples find balance. Ayinger Celebrator is world-class, as are Weihenstephaner Korbinian, Augustinerbrau Maximator, and EKU 28. Bell’s makes Consecrator once per year and I think it’s about the best in the U.S. along with Troeg’s Troegenator and Smuttynose S’muttenator.

Rauchbier: Particular to Bamberg, Rauchbier (“smoke beer”) is an old favorite of mine but admittedly not for everyone. Rauchbier is made with malts dried over open beech wood flame, which imparts dramatic smokiness to the final product. Schlenkerla is pretty much the lone German option in Rauchbier; look for their Urbock and Marzen smoked Lagers (the Urbock is my choice, though their Weizen Rauchbier is a treat and maybe the most surprising food pairing beer I’ve ever had). Breweries in America have caught on to Rauchbier, with Sam Adams alone releasing two different versions in the past year alone (Bonfire and Cinder Bock). Also keep an eye out for Flying Dog’s Dog Schwarz.

Start experimenting with darker beers, especially as we get into the summer BBQ season. I’ve found that the malts in Dark Lager play exceptionally well with almost anything off the grill, and have the added benefit of being really nice to use in cooking too. Next week: seasonal and strong German Lager. Until next time.


Nick Anderson maintains a blog at, and can be found on Twitter at @The_Beermonger. Sign up for Arrowine’s money saving email offers and free wine and beer tastings at views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

Recent Stories

Arlington County is the second best “city” to live in the U.S., according to a new set of rankings. The school-and-place ranking website Niche is out with the 2023 edition…

Morning Notes

Board to Address Pickleball Noise — “While pickleball may be popular in Arlington, Virginia, the noise heard by local neighbors continues to be a big point of debate. The Arlington…’s local news reporting today is supported by the Junior League of Washington’s Tossed & Found rummage sale. More on the event: You’re invited to shop at the 31st Annual…

Good Monday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 16319 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…

Art House 7‘s spring session will begin on April 10th! We’re offering classes, workshops, and open studios in a wide range of art mediums for all ages, from 4 year olds to adults. We cater to different skill levels in ceramics, embroidery, drawing, and of course, painting – including watercolor, oil, and acrylics. Our Spring 2023 offerings include a Portfolio Development class for high schoolers who are considering a career in the fine arts. This class provides an opportunity to create and develop a strong portfolio for college applications.

We also have some excellent classes for younger students. The “Art and the Pre-K Reader” class is designed for 4-5 year olds, and we offer “Arts and Crafts” classes taught by teens for 2nd-4th and 3rd-5th grade students.

To view our complete class schedule, Spring workshops, open studios, and 3-week classes, please visit our website. Join us this spring to learn, create, and explore with us!

Submit your own Announcement here.

The March NAACP Arlington Branch General Membership Meeting

The March NAACP Arlington Branch General Membership Meeting is focused on Public Safety & Justice. We will hear from Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Chief Public Defender Brad Haywood, Chief of Police Andy Penn, and Deputy Chief Wayne Vincent. We encourage you to come to this community conversation prepared with questions for our speakers. Registration Required

Guest Speakers

Read More

Submit your own Announcement here.

Singin’ in the Rain

The “Greatest Movie Musical of All Time” is faithfully and lovingly adapted for the stage by Broadway legends, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, from their original award-winning screenplay. Each unforgettable scene, song and dance is accounted for, including the show-stopping

5 Tips for Buying Your Dream Home – A Free…

Are you planning to move in the next 12 months but feeling overwhelmed by the current real estate market’s low inventory and high mortgage rates? Join us for a short seminar where we’ll provide 5 tips to help you find


Subscribe to our mailing list