Despite the Northern hemisphere coming into summer there has been a sudden influx of dark beers that are more than appropriate for the southern hemisphere’s sudden temperature dive.

Now, Italy has been on the craft beer radar for a while now, but France looks like being the next big thing. And first cab off the rank in the import stakes is Craig Allen, who was just voted as best brewer in France with his small range. While his name doesn’t sound French – the Scotsman is technically French by marriage – he is currently gypsy brewing in France and will soon set up his own operation. The wintery pick of his range is the Cuvée d’Oscar, a dry, hoppy, Dark Wheat Beer that will land in bottles and kegs in July. According to the tasting notes it will be a great dessert beer to pair with chocolate, or fruit cake and baked fruit tarts.

Not to be outdone, there are a lot of new Italian brews hitting the shelves and taps too. Including Lover Beer, which has previously only appeared on the grey import market. These guys specialise in Sour Beers and their Papessa Imperial Stout (Sour) has been rating very highly across the board. The tasting notes for the keg-only brew read: “The palate is complex with notes of barley coffee, fruit dried, toasted marked and more mild smoked that suggest the classic pairing with seafood and shellfish while the presence of slightly tangy and salty notes may counteract intense blue cheeses.”

Also winging their way from the boot, is Birrificio Lambrate with their Chisa and Imperial Chisa. The former is a Smoked Stout, while the latter is a Black Lager-slash-Baltic Porter. And for those that don’t mind the odd cigar, the Imperial variety apparently pairs rather well – for the non smokers, chocolate will also work.

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