List: Our favorite Dark Beers to drink in Minnesota this Fall and Winter

Stouts and porters are back....these are some of the best

Lindsey Peterson
October 30, 2019 - 9:37 am

(Getty Images / Gajus)

As the weather gets colder, the nights longer, the beer choices get darker.  

RELATED: Here are four local beers that won medals at the Great American Beer Festival.

Minnesota's craft beer explosion has created endless opportunities to sample new brews.  For Halloween, and the rest of the cold weather months we have to look forward to, these are a few of our favorite darker beers (stouts and porters).  


Bent Paddle- Black Ale
This one is a personal favorite, so we’ll start here.  It’s a flagship beer for Bent Paddle Brewing out of Duluth, so you can get it year-round. 

Brewed to be smooth and with a chocolate flavor, this Black Ale drifts between a porter and a stout.  It has the flavor of the former, but is more opaque like the latter.  They throw in a bunch of oats which adds to the fullness of the flavor.  Surprisingly easy-drinking for a darker beer, Black Ale is one of the best beers in Minnesota and perfect for those chilly nights. 

They also offer up the Black Ale in a coffee version, in partnership with Duluth Coffee Company. 

6.0% ABV

Surly- Darkness
This will be the hardest beer to find.  And the most expensive.  But this is a beer worth the extra effort (as the lines of fans on release day prove). 

In 2019, Surly created two versions:  Old Fashioned Darkness, and Double-Stuffed Darkness. 

Both are Russian Imperial Stouts.  Old Fashioned is aged in rye whiskey barrels with sweet orange peel to give it a slight citrusy feel.  Double-Stuffed went in rum barrels with vanilla bean and cacao.  Double-Stuffed will have a touch more bitterness to cut the sweetness from the rum barrels. 

Both are big stouts with 12% ABV. 

Dangerous Man- Peanut Butter Porter
This was one of the first Minnesota beers during the craft beer explosion that really went down a different path.  Peanut Butter?  In a beer?  Weird.  Now it’s become a classic.

Dark, roasty with an initial hit of peanut butter that is followed by chocolate and coffee, this could be the perfect Halloween beer.  It’s smooth (only 26 IBU) and super flavorful.  And a fairly easy-drinking beer despite it’s dark appearance.

5.8% ABV

Fulton- Worthy Adversary
Fulton, in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood has created two classic craft beers in Lonely Blonde and Sweet Child of Vine. 

Their best winter option is Worthy Adversary, a huge flavored Russian Imperial Stout.  This is a beer that compares to 5W-30.  Coffee, dark chocolate and then the sweet malts attack your palette when you drink this one.  It has a lingering bitterness so hop-heads will love it too (81 IBU). 

9.5% ABV

Schell’s- Fort Road Porter
Minnesota’s oldest brewery still cranking out beers, Schell’s out of New Ulm embraces the old-style, European heritage of beer. 

Their Fort Road Porter is an English-style Brown.  Much lower in alcohol content than most porters, Fort Road still has major flavor with chocolate, caramel and those sweet, roasted malts coming through. 

A rare easy-drinking porter from Schell’s should be on your cold weather beer list.

4.8% ABV

Summit- Dark Infusion
The brewery that made Minnesota craft beer famous keeps coming up with great new options.  First brewed in 2016, Dark Infusion Coffee Milk Stout is another standout from Summit.

They use cold-brew Brazilian coffee beans from St. Paul’s Blackeye Roasting.  This is a very rich beer, with a touch of sweetness from the malts.  The coffee doesn’t overpower the stout and gives it a dessert-like taste. 

8.5% ABV

Fair State Brewing Co-Operative- FSB Pt. 1
Fair State, if you’ve never been, is a brewing community.  Like a food co-op, you can join and be a member/owner.  The more beer you buy, the more you invest in your own business.  What a country.    

Fair State crates a yearly Russian Imperial Stout called FSB. 

This year, they’re doing FSB differently, releasing three variants, each brewed in collaboration with Forager Brewery. Part 1 is a s’mores-inspired pastry stout with marshmallows, graham crackers, cacao nibs, vanilla, and honey.

This is a very high alcohol beer, (13% ABV) so drink with caution. 

Back Channel Brewing- The Padre
Back Channel is a little off the beaten beer path (you won't find these in the liquor store, only at the brewery).  Back Channel sits along Lake Minnetonka on, you guessed it, one of the many channels that connect parts of the lake.  They brew up small batch beers in Spring Park along Shoreline Drive (across the street from the Minnetonka Drive-In). 

Currently, they’re brewing up “The Padre”, an Imperial Stout made with vanilla, cacao, coffee and for an interesting twist, Chipotle Peppers, and is slightly hoppier than a traditional stout (65 IBU).  The Chipotle gives it a very mild smokiness and kick at the end which is perfect to warm you up as the temp drops. 

10% ABV

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