Malty non-dark non-bitter beer
January 18, 2014 8:26 AM   Subscribe

What kinds of beers (lager? etc.) are typically a) malty, b) not bitter and do not leave a bitter aftertaste, c) are not too citrusy, and d) are not dark? Are there any particular brands you'd recommend?
posted by shivohum to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Stouts are the basic malty beer style, and they tend to be dark in color.

Can you clarify if you just mean color, when you say "not too dark", or if you're thinking of some flavor or other attribute that you are associating with color there?
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:33 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

"Wee Heavy" Scotch Ales tend to be malty and on the sweet side, and light on the hops (so not as bitter as some) but they're also pretty heavy and high in alcohol. RE: Dark beer, not all dark beers are necessarily heavy/bitter/strong: Leap into the Dark
posted by usonian at 8:33 AM on January 18 [3 favorites]

A number of pilsners would fit - they often use a non-barley malt, which is typically lighter, and can often be found without the hoppy or bitter aftertaste.

Amstel, some of the Grolsch varieties, even potentially a Stella.
posted by rutabega at 8:35 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

My first thought is a bock or a Märzen--both are German lagers that lean to the malty side. They're sort of a copper color--not a pale ale, but decidedly not brown or black.
posted by Aquinas at 8:36 AM on January 18 [4 favorites]

Porters might work.
Anything not bitter or citrusy is probably going to lean toward the more amber-to-brown side of things, though. Some people would consider these "dark", while some don't consider anything lighter than a stout as "dark". Why the need to not be dark? Are you equating "dark" with "heavy"? If so, that's not always the case. Guinness, for example, is pretty much black in color, but I would never call it heavy. It would also fit your requirements, save for the color.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:43 AM on January 18

Dark milds look, um, dark, but they don't have the same thing going on as stouts or porters, especially modern American stouts/porters. Rare to find in the US, though, or anywhere outside of their English home territories.

Scotch ales (Belhaven, etc.) if you can find ones closer to 5% than 8%, northern English-style brown ales (Sam Smith's more than Newcastle Brown), Dortmunder lagers, Märzens or Vienna lagers.
posted by holgate at 8:47 AM on January 18

Not sure where you're located, but if you have a good beer store in your area, go in and ask for Shiner Bock - it's pretty much exactly what you're looking for, except it's a bit "dark".

Look for pale ales, strong ales, or anything in that family (like this or this, which usually is available starting in the spring and is one of my favorite seasonal beers), it'll generally fit the bill for you.

But yeah, if you have a good beer store near you, go in and ask them the same question you asked here, and they'll show you quite a few.
posted by pdb at 8:48 AM on January 18

I would explore Belgian ales, which are typically pretty malty and not all that hoppy. Chimay is the prototypical Belgian ale and comes in different strengths (Chimay Red is a Dubble, Chimay Blue is Belgian strong ale).
posted by scalespace at 8:49 AM on January 18

Can you clarify if you just mean color, when you say "not too dark", or if you're thinking of some flavor or other attribute that you are associating with color there?

Well, I guess I usually associate dark beers with being kind of flat and uncarbonated and syrupy, but maybe as usonian points out that's unfair.

I'm really trying to get at a certain quality I've had in a few beers in the past and whose names I can't remember. It's the quality of totally enjoying the beer without wincing even slightly.

And that's never happened for me with a dark beer, including many porters and stouts that are nice but don't completely fit the bill. I like Guinness, for example, but there is something about that kind of beer that's not in the category that I'm talking about. So if there's a great, very atypical dark beer that you think fits, great, name it. But for the most part I'm looking for lighter beers.
posted by shivohum at 8:52 AM on January 18

This is going to be out of left field, but try a vanilla porter. For some, it is very much a session beer as they can be sweeter, but still taste like beer. It is not quite dessert territory, either (at least not most of them). This one is dark, but malty and also on the sweeter (read: not bitter) side.

Breckenridge Vanilla Porter
posted by oflinkey at 8:59 AM on January 18

I'm really trying to get at a certain quality I've had in a few beers in the past and whose names I can't remember. It's the quality of totally enjoying the beer without wincing even slightly.
You might find some good leads by searching for "session beer" recommendations; usually described as a beer that's well-balanced and "light" enough (in terms of alcohol content/mouthfeel/how filling it is) that you could happily drink several on a night out at the pub.

You might like Old Speckled Hen - it's particularly wonderful if you can find it on tap. I'm not sure where you are or how it's distributed elsewhere, but in the US you can usually find it in 14oz cans that use a nitrogen widget. It's also available in bottles but quite annoyingly, Morland uses clear glass which means anything that's been out on a shelf under fluorescent lights is going to be skunked. The last time I found a 12-pack carton of bottles they were fine because the cardboard completely protected them.
posted by usonian at 9:02 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

Sounds like a nice brown ale might work for you. There are lots of brown ales that are maltier in flavor than they are hoppy, but are still light enough to not be opaque. Many also have a nutty flavor to them. This is a good article to get you started.
posted by lettuce dance at 9:04 AM on January 18

I'd aim for Belgian Dubbels and Belgian Strong Dark Ales. They are famous for their malty sweetness with low hoppy bitterness.

There are lots of true Belgians as well as American beers done in this style. Chimay Blue and Red would be good choices and Omegang Abbey as a domestic example.

I'd also echo the other sentiments that color is rarely a good predictive measure of what the beer will taste like to you. You are far better off finding styles of beers you like and use that as a jumping off point.
posted by mmascolino at 9:07 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

There's a lot of lattitude within beer styles, so if you try a style in one brand and it's not to your liking it might not be the particular style, just that brewery's particular recipe.

I've had some amber ales that meet your criteria - for a commercial brew try Band of Brewers Amber Ale (it's a Coors product, apparently they've changed their stances on some key social issues if that matters to you). The obscure version of that which I doubt you'll find anywhere is from Mammoth Brewing Company. I've had other ambers that are rather bitter.

You might also try blonde ales or golden ales.

Many pale ales are on the milder side. Magic Hat #9 bills itself as "not quite a pale ale" and might do very nicely for you. Pale Ales don't taste very much like India Pale Ales despite the similarity of their names. IPAs are very hoppy (bitter, citrus-peel flavors) and very trendy right now, but don't let that make you avoid non-India Pale Ales.

Also brown ales - they can be quite nutty and non-bitter.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:09 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

I forgot to mention one of my favorite beers! If you can get it where you live, give Wild Heaven's Ode To Mercy a try. It's a sipper at 8.20%. Tastes a little more malty out of the bottle, but on tap it's, well, heaven.
posted by lettuce dance at 9:10 AM on January 18 [2 favorites]

Another thought - you might want to avoid higher alcohol beers. Often (not always, beer brewing is a diverse art) recipes will amp up the bitterness or other flavors to balance a more prominent alcohol flavor. Or they might just let the alcohol flavor come through more, which may or may not be a flavor you like. Lower alcohol beers don't need to balance the alcohol as much so they can have more latitude in their flavor profiles.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:13 AM on January 18

I also thought Wee Heavy or Scotch Ales might fit your bill, but as ales have been covered well here I also want to suggest that you look at Black Lagers, which are in my experience a bit less sweet and a bit more hoppy and crisp, though not with that citrusy note that a lot of pales have.
posted by gauche at 9:17 AM on January 18

Seconding Newcastle Brown.
posted by 4ster at 9:23 AM on January 18

You're looking for Kostritzer Schwarzbier. Dark in color, but sweet, malty, and light. It's 4.8% ABV, so low enough in alcohol to be a great session beer.

Despite the photo of the bottle in my link, I find that it's much easier to get on tap at a good beer garden dedicated to German styles, but, hey, you might find a bottle somewhere?

You might also like Negra Modelo, if you're looking for something easier to find, though I think it's hoppier than the Kostritzer.
posted by Sara C. at 9:53 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

I seem to have the same taste in beer as you (though I like most of the darker beers, too) and I've really enjoyed some red ales and/or Scottish ales. If you're in the right part of the country, I heartily recommend Four Peaks Kilt Lifter. It's delicious!
posted by Weeping_angel at 10:00 AM on January 18

I'm not a beer expert but my tastes are similar to yours. Here are some that I've enjoyed:

Trumer Pils
Lost Coast Downtown Brown
North Coast Pranqster. May be too citrusy for you, but I did not find it too bitter.
Hair of the Dog Adam.
posted by expialidocious at 11:02 AM on January 18

search for "brown ale" "nut ale". new belgium's fat tire ale seems exactly what you're going for.
posted by cupcake1337 at 11:12 AM on January 18

I'm really trying to get at a certain quality I've had in a few beers in the past and whose names I can't remember. It's the quality of totally enjoying the beer without wincing even slightly.

Murphy's Irish Stout hits this for me a little better than Guinness. It might be worth a shot if Guinness is close-but-not-quite for you, as they're pretty similar.

For scale, I would take Guinness over Newcastle, but have no objection to Newcastle.
posted by hoyland at 11:22 AM on January 18

Have you ever tried Anchor Steam? A "steam" beer is one which is fermented warm, using lager yeast. So it's not an ale, and doesn't taste like an ale. Further, it's all-malt. No rice.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:55 AM on January 18 [1 favorite]

I think a Dunkelweizen might hit the spot for you. They are easy to come by in Germany but less so elsewhere. London Pride is the other thing that comes to mind.
posted by neilb449 at 12:59 PM on January 18

I was going to suggest trying brown ales as well. The brown ales I've tried are nutty and malty, go down smooth, are not usually bitter and are not technically a "dark" beer. Newcastle is the most accessible, I think, but I like Bell's Best Brown Ale too. has a great write up on brown ales, with recommendations based on taste.
posted by geeky at 2:39 PM on January 18

"a) malty, b) not bitter and do not leave a bitter aftertaste, c) are not too citrusy, and d) are not dark? Are there any particular brands you'd recommend?"

I'm kinda a picky beer drinker.. and not a fan of beer overall. Hate when beer is bitter, citrus-y, or chocolate-y. One that works for me, which I think matches your (and my) criterions is:

Bayern's Groomer

Not sure where you're located.. but Bayern is a german-style brewer in Missoula, MT.
posted by herox at 1:50 AM on January 19

Sounds like you and I have the same problem. I'm just not into this ultra-hoppy west coast trend. Ugh.

Boddington's is a good option. The Samuel Smith beers, especially the Taddy Porter are awesome.
posted by colin_l at 5:49 AM on January 19

Many German dunkels fit your description but they're usually darker than a regular beer. More like tea than coffee colored because the malts are toasted longer but not a really long time. I prefer Warsteiner and Spaten, but any dunkel is a good place to start.

The bitter, citrusy flavor comes from the hops used in most brewing. If you can find a beer made without hops you should try that. There aren't a lot of those, though.
posted by fiercekitten at 9:58 AM on January 19

German dunkel (dark) or helles(light-colored) lagers are more malty/less bitter than pilseners. Specifically Spaten lager is a favorite.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:47 AM on January 19

Thanks for the recommendations so far! Just as a note, I had a Winter Solstice from Anderson Valley the other day, and it was pretty tasty. I don't know if that clarifies anything, or if that fits in well with what most people have been saying.
posted by shivohum at 9:40 PM on January 19

From the Beer Advocate site, you can see that this is listed as a "Winter Warmer" and the link on their site will take you to a listing of highly rated beers of that type. I'd recommend you try some of them out (quickly I might add since most of those beers will only be available in the Nov-Feb time frame).
posted by mmascolino at 8:54 PM on January 20

Check out the Helles Bock/Maibock style (style guidelines here). It's a pale, malty, strong lager -- much lighter in color than other bock styles.
posted by cog_nate at 7:22 AM on January 29

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