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I am not really a fan of dark beers. Well, that's not actually true, I do like some, but I prefer them bitter rather than sweet, and not over roasted. This weekend however my tastes seem to have changed, and I have come across some really excellent ones.

First on the list is Revolutions ' Severin Dark'. Only 3.3% but with a fair amount of body for a beer of its strength, it is apparently named after a Banshee. Confused? so am I ! Anyway, aside from that it has a complex malt background, a subtle bitter flavour, and is almost black with a nice white creamy head. And a decent beer as well. On the bar at the same time was Moorhouses 'Black Moss'. I assumed this was another dark beer, and was proved right. But this one was 4.9% and had some pleasant bitterness coming from the English hops in the brew. It was a stout, full bodied and dry, just how I like them, and with just a touch of coffee and chocolate in both the aroma and the aftertaste. I was almost becoming a convert to the dark stuff.

Marble ' Stouter Stout' was next on my list. Another excellent dark beer from an excellent brewery. This one again had a roasted taste and a bit of coffee in the background. A very rounded taste with nothing exactly predominating but everything well balanced from the hop hints on the tongue to the smoothness of the malts. These black beers are not too bad after all !!

If the previous three beers were beginning to give me a taste for the dark side then the next two were real classics of the style. Both are fairly new brews, one being a seasonal special, and maybe a little hard to track down but well worth the effort. The first is the Rat Brewery's 'Black Rat' . A 4.5% porter and everything that is good in a dark beer. A balanced bitterness complements a complex array of malts, not too sweet for a porter and crammed with flavours. It is hard to define any particular one but roast, and coffee hints come forward with each mouthfull and each mouthfull brings something different to the party. Not always available but well worth it if it is on the bar.

The last beer in my dark experience comes from Elland Brewery. We know they can brew great dark beer as their '1872 Porter' testifies, but this week I have discovered 'Traitors Gate', having saved the best till last. I am not quite sure what the beer style is, the pump clip says a 'black powder stout' so who am I to query that. It is not like any stout I have sampled before though. This has a mass of hops in the mix and is jet black with a full body. Roast and bitterness come though in the taste. A real classic.

So there you have it, a snap shot of dark beers lurking in our local pubs this weekend. Maybe I have not been fair to dark beers before, or maybe I have not been in the mood, who knows. But I will certainly try more in the future.