the force awakens

In a brewery far far away…

As winter nights grow colder and more ominous, and seasonal releases are barrel aged and darker than a Sith Lord’s heart, our greed for craft beer surfaces. Let the beer flow through you and come over to the dark side just in time for the release of the much anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“This is the time for dark beer to shine,” says Bobby Vedder, certified cicerone (and Star Wars geek) from Powers Distributing Co.

Darker styles—think stouts and porters—are known for bold flavors, longer finishes and lingering notes. The beers’ deeper color comes from its roasted malts, which contribute to the espresso flavors and bitterness.

“These beers are warming, with hints of subtle dark fruit note,” Vedder said.

Vedder’s recommendations for those looking to explore the dark side include:

Right Brain CEO Stout: Made with chocolate, espresso and oatmeal, this beer is lighter in alcohol and full of great layers of flavor.

Saugatuck Brewing Co. Neapolitan Milk Stout, a seasonal stout that uses lactose, or milk sugar, giving it a creamy texture. Its dark roasted notes are accented by flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.

Latitude 42 Powerline Porter – A Portage, Michigan-based brewery, this porter boasts caramel, coffee and chocolate flavors combine in a crisp finish. It is 5.5 percent ABV.

North Peak Dubious Black Chocolate Stout – Made in Traverse City, Michigan, this dark chocolate stout offers a perfect combination of chocolate, roast and black malts resulting in a smooth, rich beer. It is 5.3 percent ABV.

And finally, what Vedder calls ‘the Darth Vader’ of beers:

Oskar Blues’ Ten Fidy: Clocking in at 10.5 percent ABV, you don’t know the power of this dark beer. Ten Fidy is an Imperial Stout loaded with chocolate, caramel and coffee, using plenty of malt, roasted barley and flaked oats.

“The true dark side of beer isn’t about style, it is a mentality where people hoard beer for underground trades, or pay off their friends to mule for them at special releases” said Ben Darcie, brewery representative and sales manager for Brewery Vivant and founder and lead instructor of Experience Beer, a public and private beer education organization based in Grand Rapids, MI.

For a big, intense beer that is sure to lure you to the dark side, Darcie recommends:

Brewery Vivant Plow Horse: This heavily bodied Belgian Imperial Stout begins with biscuit and caramel notes, and finishes with lots of thick coffee, chocolate and a residual sweetness. Clocking in at 9.5%, this beer drinks like 5%, Darcie said. He compares this beer to an unsuspecting villain like Emperor Palpatine, whose underlying power isn’t apparent until you go into battle against him. Plow Horse is only available this month, and won’t return until November 2017.

the force awakens

Founders Breakfast Stout: Brewed with flaked oats, plenty of chocolate and two types of coffee, this Imperial Coffee Stout is aggressive in its own way without being overpowering.

Founders KBS: Always two, there are; a master and an apprentice. If Breakfast Stout is the apprentice, then KBS is the Dark Lord of the Sith. This Imperial Stout brewed with tons of coffee is cave-aged for an entire year. The rebel forces will be out en masse when this beer is released in 2016.

Darcie and Vedder recommend resisting the temptation of the dark side by opening your cellar and cracking a good bottle to share with family and friends this holiday season.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opens in theaters December 18th.

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery