Dark Beer vs Light Beer

You want to find out the differences between dark beer vs light beer. Interestingly, there are many false beliefs about these kinds of beer. As a matter of fact, the color of the liquid has nothing to do with the alcohol content. So, in what ways do dark beer and light beer differ from each other? Which one is healthier?

Now, continue reading below to learn more about:
– The ingredient for making dark beer and light beer
– The roasting process of dark beer vs light beer
– The flavor characteristics of each kind of beer
– The suitable food pairings for each beer
– The health effects of dark beer and light beer
– Which beer that is better for you

Some people think that the reason behind the color of a beer has something to do with the ingredient.This is true to an extent. Regardless of whether the beer is made in your kitchen with a simple beer brewing kit or in a large-scale brewery facility, the color of the resulted beer will be affected significantly by the ingredient.

The most common ingredient for making beer is barley. This ingredient will give the typical brownish color of beer. However, beer can also be made from other kinds of grain, such as wheat, rice, quinoa, oats, and rye. In fact, you can use any kind of grain. Each grain will give its own special character and color to the brew.Here are some examples of dark beers from Food and Wine that you should try.

However, the ingredients can’t be grouped specifically for making dark beer or light beer. For example, you can use barley for making dark beer, but you can also use barley for making light beer. This is true for any kind of grain. So, while different kinds of grain will give some variations in character and color, all of them are suitable for making both dark beer and light beer.

Roasting Process
The biggest factor that affects the brew whether it is going to be dark beer or light beer is the roasting process. Besides affecting the color, the roasting process also affects the flavor of the brew. Usually, the longer the roasting process is, the darker the color and the stronger the flavor will be.

Different roasting temperatures and durations are utilized to produce different malt colors from the same grain. Higher temperatures and longer durations will create darker malts, and darker malt will produce darker beers. Meanwhile, lower temperatures and shorter durations will create lighter malts and produce lighter beers. When you are making your own beer, you can decide the type of beer that will be resulted by controlling these factors.

The majority of beers use barley malt as the major component of the starch. This is because barley malt has a fibrous hull that remains attached during the threshing. The hull will be broken into large pieces during the milling, and then the pieces will act as a filter bed during the lautering.

Flavor and Alcohol Content
Besides affecting the color, the roasting process also brings significant effects to the body and flavor of the beer. In particular, the more the grain is roasted, the richer and the more complex the brew becomes. Typically, a roasting process tends to bring up the stronger flavor notes, such as toffee and chocolate.

A dark beer tends to feature a deeper, richer, and more complex set of flavors, including toffee and chocolate. Note that these strong flavors come from the malt itself rather than the additional flavorings. Some people love such dark beers with strong malt flavors, some others don’t.

Meanwhile, a light beer is usually characterized by flavors that come from the flavoring agents. The most commonly used beer flavoring is, of course, hops. In fact, the only major commercial use of hops is for beer flavoring. A light beer’s profile is dominated by the hops. It has a refreshing bitterness, some fruity and floral notes, and a slight yeast flavor.

The alcohol levels in dark beers and light beers vary greatly. Most beers contain 4 percent – 7 percent alcohol. Dark beers tend to have higher alcohol levels than light beers, but this is not always true.

You can’t really say that dark beer has higher alcohol content than light beer because there are dark beers with low alcohol levels and light beers with high alcohol levels. For example, Guinness Stout, which is a well-known example of dark beer, is on the low-end of the alcohol content scale.

Food Pairings
Dark beers have strong flavors that may as well override the dishes. As the effect, you should be careful when pairing a dark beer with a food. Dark beers are great for rich, flavorful dishes such as smoked or grilled meats. Lobsters, crab legs, sausages, barbecues, and roasted pork are also great for dark beers.

Light beers often have refreshing flavors, so they are ideal for spicy foods. A crisp, clean taste can give the much-needed relief from the spiciness. The fruity flavors of light beers also make them ideal for sweet desserts and pastries. Light beers are commonly served with sushi, hot dogs, noodles, salads.

Health Effects
Darker alcoholic beverages tend to give more sever hangover effects than the lighter ones. This is also true for dark beer vs light beer. Dark beer is more likely to cause hangover than light beer. But, then again, different people have different tolerance levels – there are some people who never get hangover effects from dark beers.

A hangover is a condition that includes various unpleasant psychological and physiological effects happening after consuming alcohol. The symptoms typically include dry mouth, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, absence of hunger, gastrointestinal distress, nausea, sweating, anxiety, depression, and hyper-excitability. The symptoms may last for a few hours or more than 24 hours.

What causes a hangover is still not understood clearly, but some factors are known to be involved, such as dehydration, changes in glucose metabolism, vasodilation, and acetaldehyde accumulation. Dark beer contains higher concentrations of chemicals. This is probably why it is more likely to cause hangover.

Dark Beer vs Light Beer
Dark BeerLight Beer
- Darker color- Lighter color
- Made from a longer roasting process or higher temperature- Made from a shorter roasting process or lower temperature
- Deeper, more complex flavors that come from the malt- Refreshing bitterness and fruity notes from the hops
- More likely to cause hangover- Less likely to cause hangover
- Suitable for smoked or grilled meats, lobsters, barbecues- Suitable for spicy foods, sweet desserts, pastries

The roasting process plays the biggest role in making dark beer and light beer. Dark beer typically has richer, more complex flavors that come from the malt itself; the strong flavors make dark beer ideal for rich, flavorful dishes. Meanwhile, light beer has more pronounced flavors from the hops; the refreshing and fruity flavors make light beer suitable for spicy foods, sweet desserts, and pastries.