As we’ve ticked into winter, it’s important to know that all your beer drinking dreams can still continue. 

Whether you’re into the hoppiest, juiciest, dankest brews on the planet, it’s time to light the fire, settle down with some soup, and most importantly – unlock the dark beers.

I was always unsure about stouts and porters when I was younger. I think it’s to do with traumatic events that may or may not revolve around a certain day in the middle of March…

Anyway, many years ago, I knew it was time to try and develop my beer palate further.

I’d never really strayed past an IPA or lager on those days too (and boy, that feels like a lifetime ago).

I remember asking on Twitter what dark beers I should start with, and I got a few recommendations from friends and strangers.

Living in Katikati at the time, the bottle store only had one of these beers that was recommended to me: Garage Project’s Aro Noir.

This was the first true dark beer I got to experience and enjoy with its deep black colour, inspired by the darkness of a Wellington winter in Aro Valley, and a slight citrus bitterness and aroma that blends in with the roasted maltiness of it all.

And since then, I’ve found my groove with dark beers.

With the bitter southerly howling through my home in Wellington, it made me think about how there could be people like younger me, unsure about what to pick off the shelves this winter to try their hand at the dark arts.

So here are five beers to get you started on stout and porter season.

Cassels Brewing Co Milk Stout

Plenty to like about this one. The boldness of coffee and cream with the sweetness of dried fruits and chocolate. Award winning and downright delicious.

Garage Project Cereal Milk Stout

Did someone say a beer brewed with corn flakes!? A more creamy stout, offering up a rich roast character. Don’t think this is a substitute for a bowl of cereal, however.

Sawmill Baltic Porter

This beauty is in the Top 30 in the recent New World beer and Cider Awards. The silkiness of the chocolate marries up wonderfully with the roast coffee and caramel notes.

Sawmill baltic porter

Boneface The Darkness India Stout

Weighing in at 5.8% ABV, there’s something really special about this one. Its’ a gentle one that eventually warms you up by the time you finish it. Leaves you licking your lips and asking for another.

Three Boys Oyster Stout

If you’re able to enjoy the first four, this one comes off a little thicker, stronger, and bolder. It’s the beer form of a bear hug, with plenty of rich, salty points to it that make you question your existence.

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