Although most of the world's beer markets are dominated by pale lagers, dark beers remain popular in some countries and have recently increased their sales volumes in a number of markets, thanks to a revival of interest in traditional beer styles and the growth of speciality brewing. The characteristics of some typical dark beer styles (including German specialities such as "Schwarzbier", i.e. "black beer", dark lagers and dark wheat beers as well as the internationally better known stouts, porters and dark ales originating from the British Isles) and the main factors influencing colour formation during wort boiling are described together with the different materials and methods used to darken the colour of beer. The most traditional method is to use malts which have been kilned at higher temperatures and/or roasted malts, but these are subject to variations in consistency which sometimes make it difficult to ensure that the colour of the finished beer always conforms to specification. Colourings made by heating sugar syrups in the presence of catalysts are used in some countries, but in many places their use is banned or restricted because some of their constituents are believed to be toxic or carcinogenic. In Germany, special colouring preparations which themselves are actually beers are used to enable colour to be added to beer without violating the Purity Law. Such a preparation, known as "Farbebier" (literally "colour beer") is brewed from a grist consisting mainly of roasted malt, the lightly hopped wort is briefly fermented, then the beer is filtered firstly through kieselguhr and secondly through activated carbon (to remove excessive "burnt" flavour constituents derived from the roasted malt) before being concentrated by vacuum evaporation. The characteristics of a range of these colour beers are listed in tabular form. As well as enabling beer colour and (in some cases) flavour to be adjusted with great precision, these products have the further advantage that, being produced from the same ingredients as the beers to which they are added, they need not be separately declared on the label in countries where ingredient listing is required by law.
Keywords : additive brewing colour composition dark beer dark malt flavour