We went dark this week. Inspired by the weather, or just a change from last week’s pale line-up? A little of both, probably. All three of these beers will pair well with a cold night and a thick wooly jumper. Mussel Inn is an Onekaka operation that turns out a large variety of curious brews with critters on the label. Steamer Basin is a new operation in Dunedin’s Wharf Street, committing to small batches and Bottle Conditioning every beer. Hop Baron, a project of three school friends reunited in Christchurch, puts the focus on local ingredients for their ales and stouts.

Mussel Inn
– Black Rhino

Imperial Porter-Style Robust Dark Ale (6.0% ABV)

Imperial porters, so the story goes, came about when the Russian court (Catherine the Great was a fan) took a liking to London’s dark beers and gave them some extra oomph for travel and freezing weather. This one’s a bit lower in alcohol and lighter in body than most. A malt-forward, treacly flavor profile with lots of bite on the finish but none of the mouth-coating feeling porters sometimes bring.

Steamer Basin
Oatmeal Stout

Oatmeal Stout (4.2% ABV)

Oatmeal stouts are known for their smooth, rich body thanks to oats in the mash. Combine that with the fine “microbubbles” that we’re guessing come from the bottle conditioning and you’ve got a wonderfully creamy mouthfeel. Slightly sweet milk chocolate and coffee flavors and a long, fruity finish also make this beer a favorite.

Hop Baron
– 8 Ball Stout

Coffee Stout (6.0% ABV)

If you don’t see the bottle, you might think someone mixed up the keg and the espresso machine. This stout is made with Switch coffee beans that come through strong from nose to tail. Fruity, acidic, and unabashedly bitter, this is a pour to keep you alert and oriented.