A long time favourite of mine, DAB Dortmunder Dark is an outlier in the brewery’s range. It’s the blonde Export that represents the classic style of Dortmund and the Ruhr Valley. We get it in Ontario but also line extensions like the Dark (and others).
Pictured below, via the history timeline on DAB’s website, is the export in its glory.
Some might say, the blonde Dortmund style was the glory of Dortmund, as consolidation has taken its toll on the city’s old-line breweries. But Dortmunder Actien-Brauerei carries on, today in the fold of Radeberger/Dr. Oetker, yes the man who makes a frozen pizza staple distributed, gee, almost everywhere.
The DAB brewery was pretty torn up in Allied bombing, along with its home city, during World War II but was rebuilt within a few years after the war.
Blonde DAB is certainly nice, but as craft brewing – at its best – equals or exceeds that type, I find the Dark more attractive. It is still better (imo), not than all craft examples, but most I encounter day in day out.
If you drink it ice cold, the dark malts hardly show up. That will suit some drinkers.
But for those who want to taste, try it around 10 degrees C (50 F). A malty yet fairly dry character results, somewhat coffee-like, and somewhat acerbic, as some coffee can be. Metallic yeasty notes are evident in the background as well.
What actual style the beer is – “dark” is not a style – the webpage doesn’t say. Most would probably hazard Bavarian dark, or Dunkel, but this could almost be a light porter, too. There is a carbonized finish, which, if you were of romantic mind, might evoke the big coal mines that used to power the Ruhr economy.
Not that mining is particularly romantic, quite the contrary as recent Canadian news shows – but you know what I mean.
(DAB’s German website references only two forms of pilsener: no Export or Dark. As beer writers know, even in Dortmund the pilsener type acquired great popularity, overshadowing the local style in recent times. Therefore, I am not sure how the company styles the Dark in German).
Some times of the year DAB Dark seems more intense in taste than other times, but perhaps it’s the taster not the beer. An advantage is the designation “draft quality”. This means the beer is heat-treated to render it shelf-stable – pasteurized – but at a lower intensity than is used for most beer.
This helps maintain maximum organoleptic qualities – short that is of drinking the beer unpasteurized on its home turf.
Germany still rocks a good glass of beer, not always, not every brand, but the average experience is usually more than satisfactory and sometimes stellar. Compared to the mass market standard in North America, but also a lot of craft beer, that says a lot.
DAB Dark is illustrative, but if you try it, you chill out, not the beer.