This week I would like to do my first review of a black lager which is one of my favorite styles due to the high amount of flavor in such a smooth, sessionable beer. The particular beer I chose is by Devils Backbone and appropriately named Schwartz Bier (Black beer).
This is my second review of a DB beer with Azrael, their Strong Belgian Ale, being one of my first posts. As discussed in the prior post, this is a fast rising award-winning brewery out of Roseland, Virginia. Schwartz Bier won Bronze in the World Beer Cup in 2010 and has racked up a few Virginia craft beer awards.
Appearance is midnight black with a small amount of khaki colored head.
Aromas I detect are roast notes, chocolate, and molasses. Nothing really jumping out, but that is to be expected with this style.
Tastes are roasted malt/barley, a little espresso, caramel, molasses, and a bitterness which hits at the end as the beer clears off the tongue.
With such a dark beer it is natural to anticipate a heavy mouth feel, but this style is far from it. Schwartz Bier has a light body and is clean and crisp. Almost dries out the mouth after the bitterness fades. Medium to low amount of carbonation.
Overall I find this to be very representative of the black lager style: Plenty of roasted flavors, bittersweet, and quite refreshing. I can’t find too much negative about this beer and it is nothing but satisfying, so I will rate Devil’s Backbone Schwartz Bier 4.5 Mugs on the Draft Notes Scale.
This style is a definitely a nice break from traditional winter beers I have been drinking over the last few months such as stouts, strong ales, and warmers.
Don’t get Devil’s Backbone in your neighborhood? Some popular Black Lagers you could look for are Kostritzer (one of the oldest and original producers in Germany), Sam Adams Black Lager, and Full Sail Session Black Lager. I had a great one in Charleston, SC last month by Westbrook called Dark Helmut if you are lucky enough to live in that area (or visit).
Devils Backbone: http://www.dbbrewingcompany.com