Bar Tending & Beerspectives
by Matt Martinkovic
Brewsearch & Development -
Nik's Wunderbar - Whitehouse Station NJ
It's not uncommon for a customer to come in to Nik's Wunderbar and  ask me for a taste of my
lightest beer, I always pour them my stout. And when they look at me like I’m crazy, I smile and
explain that, although dark in color, the stout is lowest in alcohol, lowest in calories and
lightest in body. Often times, this gets them to at least taste it. And more often than not, I
watch people have an epiphany…“I usually don’t like dark beer, but this one is good.”

Unfortunately dark beer, always being judged by the color of its malt. Many people have
the misconception that the color of beer is directly related to its weight. In the mind of
some consumers, dark beers are rich, heavy and full of calories. Conversely, they also
then think that the paler in color a beer is, the lighter it is in body, alcohol and calories.
That is not always true.

The color of beer is directly related to its malt content. The fermentable sugar in the majority
of craft beer comes from malted barley that has been germinated and kilned. Additional color
and malt flavor come from the roasting process. Most craft beers, with wheat beers being the
exception, are made up of 75-100 percent base malts, the palest malts on the spectrum.
Speciality malts make up the next largest amount at 5-15 percent and black and dark malts
typically only make up 1-5 percent of the overall recipe—which means it only takes a small
percentage of dark malt to create a darker colored beer. Think of it in terms of food dye;
although food dye does not dilute or make up a noticeable percentage of a cupcake
recipe, a few small drops go a long way.

So, don’t let color deceive you. There are plenty of full-bodied pale beers with high
sugar content, just as there are light-bodied dark beers with lower sugar content. The
answer, is in the ABV (alcohol by volume).

Although lab tests could give you more accurate results, all you really need to know is that
sugar content and calories in beer directly correlates to its alcohol content. It takes more
sugar, in this case maltose, to make more alcohol. So therefore, in the most basic of
conclusions possible, the higher the alcohol a beer has, the more maltose used,
and the more calories in the end product.

Understanding styles can be beneficial to those seeking lighter-style dark beers.
The “lightest of the darkest” styles are black lagers (or schwarzbiers), porters and dry stouts.

When introducing people to the darker side of light beers, I typically ask them two questions:
Do you like chocolate? Do you like coffee?  If so then it's a porter or stout.

All this may seem a bit confusing to those new to craft beer so the best way to handle the
many choices we have here at Nik's Wunderbar is simply  to ask me about the beer.  After all
there's only one thing better than talking and learning about beer and that's drinking it!

Hope to see you soon at Nik's Wunderbar.



And don't forget my friends at the  Northside Lounge,
100 Brooks Boulevard, Manville, NJ 08835     908-722-7712
Matt Martinkovic is not only a recognized beer authority but a well known ecological writer whose
work has appeared in the The American Midland Naturalist (University of Notre Dame) among other
industry publications.  He also has been an agricultural consultant on, of course, the growing of hops.
The Case For Dark Beer
To all my readers and friends, please stop in and say hello to me at my new home, the great
Nik's Wunderbar,    It's an exclusive Bavarian beer hall and beer garden focusing on
German dishes and German brews. The staff wears traditional Bavarian dress too!  When you come in
be sure to sign up for my free newsletter.  And tell them you saw it here on BeerNexus!
454 Route 22 West Whitehouse Station, NJ 08888
For Matt's latest Wunderbar Newsletter click HERE