Lagers would likely have been mainly dark until the 1840s. Dark lagers may be dunkels, Schwarzbiers, Viennas or Baltic porters. Dunkel is a dark German beer. Dunkel is the German word meaning "dark", and dunkel beers typically range in colour from amber to dark reddish brown. They are characterized by their smooth malty flavour. With alcohol concentrations of 4.5% to 6% by volume, dunkels are weaker than Doppelbocks, another traditional dark Bavarian beer. Dunkels were the original style of the Bavarian villages and countryside. Lighter-coloured lagers were not common until the later part of the 19th century when technological advances made them easier to produce.

Schwarzbier, a much darker, almost black beer is mainly brewed in Saxony and Thuringia with a chocolate or near liquorice flavour, similar to stout.