We’re starting the year with a statement: Could it be the “Year of the Dark Lager”? Last year, we saw Czech beers rise like crazy, from Czech pale lagers and pilsners to dark lagers. Just about every beer package that arrived on our doorstep had a dark lager of some sort. Whereas for the past five years, we’ve torn through boxes, discovering West Coast IPAs, DIPAs, hazies of all kinds, sours, and loads of imperial stouts and pastry stouts, for what seems like the first time, we’re now gifted with festbiers, märzens, ambers, schwarzbiers, and Czech dark lagers. We’ll be the first to say that we are completely here for it.

Now, this is normally where we share the Untappd data to back up our anecdotal claims. In 2023, the category of “Lager – Dark” had 450k check-ins. So not a cannonball, but not an insignificant toe in the pool either.

Hopefully, by showing you Untappd’s All-Time Top-Rated Dark Lagers, we can convince you to go out and give a few of these or others a try, checking in as many dark lagers as you can to help us raise that number in 2024.

Untappd’s All-Time Top-Rated Dark Lagers

Please note that we have omitted any beers that are no longer in production from this list.

Rhetorica – Hill Farmstead Brewery

Greensboro, VT

hill farmstead rhetorica dark lager
Photography courtesy of Hill Farmstead

Inspired by a trip to the Czech Republic in 2017, Hill Farmstead Founder Shaun Hill brewed Rhetorica as an ode to tmavé pivo, aka Czech dark lager.

The single-decocted Czech-style dark lager conditions at 3° Celsius in French oak puncheons for more than three months before transferring to stainless steel and “krausening with a fresh-fermenting lager for a slow, gentle, natural carbonation,” according to the beer’s Untappd description.

We haven’t personally tried this beer, but with an incredible Untappd rating of 4.32, we’d sure like to soon if we ever can.

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Centrale Scotch Whisky – LTM Les Trois Moiusquetaires

Brossard, QC, Canada

les trois moiusquertaires centrale scotch whisky dark lager
Photography courtesy of Les Trois Moiusquetaires

It’s not too often that we find a barrel-aged dark lager, but that’s what you get with Centrale Scotch Whisky from the Canadian brewery LTM Les Trois Moiusquetaires.

According to a press release from the brewery, the beer ages in bourbon, Canadian whiskey, rye,and peated Scotch barrels. 🤯 No wonder this 10.5% dark lager impressed enough to nail down a 4.35 rating on Untappd.

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River Black Lager – Suarez Family Brewery

Livingston, NY

suarez family brewery river black lager dark lager
Photography courtesy of Aaron C | Untappd

We love Suarez Family lagers. If we could lock down a case of Palatine Pils or Quality Pils to show up on our doorstep every month, we would. (Oh wait, you can! If you have the Untappd app, navigate to the Shop and search for ‘Palatine Pils’!)

But the upstate New York-based brewery enjoys going to the dark side as well, with its River Black Lager accruing a whopping 4.2 rating on Untappd.

Suarez describes this beer as “Snappy and quaffable, yet with a silky body and layers of dark malt complexity. A tad roastier than German-style black lager, with a more round sweetness as well.”

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Triple Day Of The Dead – Garage Project

Wellington City, Wellington, New Zealand

garage project triple day of the dead dark lager
Photography courtesy of @garageproject

We just named Garage Project to our list of “The 13 Best Breweries to Watch in 2024,” so it makes sense that they would pop up on this ranking.

Technically an imperial chili chocolate black lager, Triple Day Of The Dead gets an injection of chipotle, cocoa nibs, agave, and vanilla pods.

But where most might make this into an imperial stout, Garage Project cold-ferments and conditions as a lager, letting this 12% ABV black beauty shine.

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Tmavy 13° – Human Robot

Philadelphia, PA

human robot tmave 13 dark lager
Photography courtesy of @humanrobotbeer

We named Human Robot’s Festbier to our list of “The Best Beers We Drank in 2023,” but we easily could have subbed Tmavy 13° in instead. Double decocted with floor-malted Bohemian barley plus Czech Saaz hops, Tmavy 13° is a true-to-style Czech dark lager.

Pouring midnight black, Tmavy 13° drinks with a medium body and a “mild, drying roast character,” according to the beer’s Untappd description. “Notes of aniseed and dark bread crust.”

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Quiet Night – Fox Farm Brewery

Salem, CT

fox farm brewery quiet night dark lager
Photography courtesy of @foxfarmbrewery

Fox Farm is no stranger to these lists when lager is involved, popping up on Untappd’s All-Time Top-Rated Czech Pilsners and Untappd’s All-Time Top-Rated Märzens.

The streak continues here with Quiet Night, a Czech-style dark lager made up almost entirely of Bohemian malted barley.

After primary fermentation, Fox Farms lagers this dark beer over six weeks in a horizontal lager tank.

The finished beer is “soft and creamy but with that unmistakable, clean lager finish you’d expect,” according to the beer’s Untappd description. “It has a restrained (but very present) malt quality highlighted by a hint of raisin and the slightest impression of roast.”

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Nomad Oak – Tree House Brewing Company

Charlton, MA

tree house brewing company nomad oak dark lager
Photography courtesy of Tree House Brewing Company

Another common name on this list, Tree House doesn’t just excel with its hazies, but has a deft hand with lagers, too.

Tree House lists Nomad Oak as a Czech dark lager (tmavé pivo) brewed with both light and dark floor-malted barley along with roasted malts.

Noble hops help balance the roastiness with a bit of earthy spiciness, rounded out by lagering as long as it needs in American Oak.

As Tree House says, “Nomad Oak is the crown jewel of our lager program. Enjoy it blissfully with friends and family alike.”

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Karlův 13° – Schilling Beer Co.

Littleton, NH

schilling beer co karluv 13 dark lager
Photography courtesy of Schilling Beer Co.

Schilling has been kind enough to send us this beer, so we can attest firsthand that this dark lager stuns. Pouring espresso black with a little bit of a mocha head, Karlův 13° hits you with a range of roast coffee, pumpernickel toast, and cocoa powder.

Schilling has dedicated itself to lagers, and it always shows. You’ll also find their beer listed on Untappd’s All-Time Top-Rated Czech Pilsners and throughout many of our “Best Of” lists.

Hitting 4.12 on Untappd, Karlův 13° continues to prove that Schilling excels at cold-fermented beers, whether they’re light, dark, or somewhere in between.

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As Simple As Shadows? – The Seed: A Living Beer Project

Atlantic City, NJ

the seed: living beer project as simple as shadows? dark lager
Photography courtesy of @ROBert | Untappd

Whereas many of the dark lagers you find on this list take inspiration from the Czech Republic, The Seed’s As Simple As Shadows? leans German, brewed with Rabbit Hill pilsner malt and specialty malts.

Also registering a 4.12 rating on Untappd, this German-style dark lager pours a dark brown and drinks with notes of earthy cocoa, light roasted malt, and mild smokiness. More like a schwarzbier.

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The Smoothness – Great Divide Brewing Company

Denver, CO

great divide brewing company the smoothness dark lager
Photography courtesy of Great Divide Brewing Company

This velvety dark lager takes a nap in Irish Jameson Caskmates barrels, picking up some of those vanilla and oak characteristics.

The Smoothness stands out for its ultrarich, ultrasmooth mouthfeels.

“One sip and the name explains itself,” says the beer’s Untappd description.

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