The other day I had a cold-weather craving for a dark beer. I looked in the fridge and, boom, there it was, just the thing. Other black beauties stared back at me, don't get me wrong, including a stout from Bell's Brewery in Michigan and various porters. They would have sufficed. But this fridge surprise promised what I sought, a rounded, creamy maltiness and a strong note of licorice. Rich mahogany in colour, it offers up soft fruit, mainly banana, along with that malty sweetness and a bitter, balanced touch from the hops. The 6.5-per-cent alcohol is well integrated. Various prices around the country.