1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Black Bavarian - Sprecher Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Black BavarianBlack Bavarian

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

742 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 742
Reviews: 453
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 10.57%
Wants: 100
Gots: 31 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Sprecher Brewing Company visit their website
Wisconsin, United States

Style | ABV
Schwarzbier |  5.86% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
Bronze Medal Winner in the European Darks category at the 1988 Great American Beer Festival (GABF).

(Beer added by: xlperro on 04-23-1998)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Black Bavarian Alström Bros
Ratings: 742 | Reviews: 453 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of blackie
blackie

California

4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

appearance: The pour into my imperial pint glass creates a big, fluffy, khaki head that recedes very slowly, and then persists in the form of a generous layer throughout the experience. The beer is a very dark brown in color.

smell: Though the beer is dark, the malt presence on the nose is somewhat subdued, as expected. At first I notice overripe bananas and banana bread, with some light caramel and milk chocolate notes in the background. The hop aroma is moderate. Smells good.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is on the lower end of the medium range, and very smooth. The body is medium, and very smooth and creamy.

taste: Delicious, subtle notes of milk chocolate and caramel on the tongue. Also subdued notes of roasted malt. Hop flavor is light, and the bitterness is just right...lingering into the finish with some roasted flavors.

drinkability: Definately easy drinking.

Picked up a single at Riley's while visiting Madison, WI. The characters 30108 FL 92701210 are printed on the neck of the bottle. Damn good beer.

01-08-2006 03:57:05 | More by blackie
Photo of OldSock
OldSock

District of Columbia

4.33/5  rDev +6.4%

Appearance – 16 oz bottle from Julio's. Pours black as any stout, with faint red highlights when held up to the light. On top is an extra creamy tan two finger head that last for a few minutes.

Smell – Light coffee notes with a toasted malt backbone. A bit too roasty for a traditional shwarzbier, but it still smells good to me. No esters or alcohol that I can detect.

Taste – Smooth with mild roast and a slight noble hop twang. Slight dry charcoal bitterness in the finish. Definitely an in-your-face American interpretation of the German original, but its tasty. I would say this beer is a lager cousin to a Dry Irish Stout.

Mouthfeel – Smooth medium body with medium carbonation. A bit heavy for the style, but it fits this particular flavor profile well.

Drinkability & Notes – A tasty lager and my second favorite shwarzbier behind only the fabulous offering from Moonlight. Not exactly to style, but I'm not complaining too much.

12-28-2005 02:13:52 | More by OldSock
Photo of soulgrowl
soulgrowl

United Kingdom (England)

3.85/5  rDev -5.4%

Appearance: Burnt coffee black with a deep purple tone. Creamy, light tan, latte-colored head with pretty, sparkly little bubbles.

Smell: Espresso, burnt sugar, licorice, and lumber/sawdust.

Taste: Coffee, charred malts, dark cocoa, and there's a kind of odd mineral taste that reminds me of snow or ice that's been in the freezer too long. Finish is nice and espresso bean-bitter. Peaty notes and vodka-like alcohol comes through as the beer warms. Pretty tasty.

Mouthfeel: A tad syrupy and rather heavy. Not particularly creamy or smooth, but not overwhelming.

Drinkability: Bold and complex, this is something that should be emjoyed one at a time. Would pair nicely with roast beef or a rare steak.

12-23-2005 01:48:02 | More by soulgrowl
Photo of nomad
nomad

Kansas

4.58/5  rDev +12.5%

A beer that I've enjoyed a few times but always with a less-than-fresh bottle. Over a big plate of beef brisket, South Carolina rice, and collard greens, this one came in great condition.

Pours seemingly black but truly deep brown with bare red highlights. Low, sudsy, and mocha colored head and occasional lace.

At first cocoa and coffee dominated with a touch of base malt sweetness, it opens to a deep and alluring caramel-dipped cherry scent and surprising touch of noble hop minty and floral zing. Full in effect and wide ranging in character, a surprising sniffing beer.

Flavor is crackling with a tight blend of pils-like bitterness and minty tinge with the smoothest rough cocoa and coffee. That's right, rough and roasty but impeccably smooth, and even rounded out by just enough caramel sweetness. Amazing pair with sweet and spicy barbecue sauce, sharpening the amazing rotation of roast, mint, sweet, roast, and smooth finish.

Who says there are no good lager brewers in the U.S.?

12-03-2005 16:36:52 | More by nomad
Photo of Stimack
Stimack

New York

4.35/5  rDev +6.9%

Brew pours to a black color allowing a slight amount of light through with a fair sized head that has some retention. The aroma is of roasted, burnt malts that give of scents of coffee, caramel, chocolate and toffee. Overall an excellent smelling brew. Has a nice flavor to it, with the malt dominant, caramel, chocolate and toffee like tastes. Also a very dry feel to it. This is a extremely excellent brew, one of my favorite styles as well.

11-28-2005 03:10:57 | More by Stimack
Photo of DaPeculierDane
DaPeculierDane

Wisconsin

3.85/5  rDev -5.4%

Appearance: Black with lively ruby/crimson hues. Thick and lasting tan head. Sticky.

Smell: Burnt/caramelized sugar. Sweet dark malts. Burnt cherry. Very little hops or alcohol in the nose.

Taste: sweet roasted malts and dark cherries. Hints of chocolate and toffee. Mostly just perfectly balanced big roasted malts. Mmm…

Mouthfeel: Sweet front, slightly bitter finish.

Drinkability: Above average.

11-11-2005 16:08:59 | More by DaPeculierDane
Photo of longarm
longarm

Maryland

4.2/5  rDev +3.2%

Thin carbonation disipates quickly. I'd like to see a little more foam standing proud on top of the brew. Completely devoid of light.

Caramel flavors blend exceptionally with roasted malts in both flavor and aroma. Little to no alcohol and no hops present in the nose.

Exceptionally complex malt bill balanced not with hops but a little spiciness, perhaps from rye. Very, very, very small hint of smoke seems to be hiding behind the roasted malt making it nearly imperceptible. If there is smoked malt, it's being coy. This is a tasty beer that has warming characteristics of darker beers with a nice clean finish typical of any exceptional lager.

Mouthfeel seems a little thick at first, but the hops make their presence felt helping scrub the palate for the next sip. Ends-up fairly balanced if perhaps a little cloying.

Overall a very nice beer and easy to drink. Sprecher continues to be one of the great underappreciated breweries specializing in quality lagers.

11-07-2005 23:29:43 | More by longarm
Photo of zjungleist
zjungleist

Illinois

4.22/5  rDev +3.7%

Fairly dark, basically black (just like the label suggests), with a lively tan head. The smell is nice and malty, with some coffee, chocolate, and a hint of herbal hops. I was shocked at the first sip, quite bold. Lots and lots of burnt malts and a fair amount of hop, with a lager-yeast taste as well. In truth, the taste is a lot like an American double stout, but the mouthfeel is thinner and more carbonated. It lacks the alcohol punch of a stout, but the flavor is nearly as complex as a sipper. It's hard to call this one refreshing, but it is satisfying for sure.

11-05-2005 03:53:37 | More by zjungleist
Photo of dirtylou
dirtylou

Washington

3.95/5  rDev -2.9%

16oz single

appearance: pours dark brown but the aggregate is near black, tinted blood red when held to the light...creamy tan head, minimal lacing of the rim

smell: theres a number of things going on in the nose of this one...sweet dark fruit, dark chocolate, mild coffee, a little smoke, cherry, toffee

taste: The first thing I notice is a delicate smoke flavor, followed quickly by that of cherrys covered in dark chocolate. There are some coffee grounds buried somewhere in this collage of flavor. Toffee is also noted...very malty with a somewhat spicy finish

mouthfeel: a little dry and spicy in the finish, medium bodied

drinkability: slightly above average


This is only the 2nd Sprecher I have tried ( I sippped on a maibock in chicago this summer) but I will probably try to sample some more of their stuff in the future.

10-09-2005 00:34:35 | More by dirtylou
Photo of Boilermaker88
Boilermaker88

California

4.33/5  rDev +6.4%

One of the last beers I had left from my June trip back to Boston. Somehow this one got lost in the shuffle and only recently resurfaced in the DBF. The 500ml bottle decanted easily into the (also) recently rediscovered mug I've grown fond of again, yielding a brew displaying a blackish color with brown edges, copious carbonation, and a thick foamy light beige head that was quite durable.
The nose was laden with a thick caramel aroma, some cocoa and molasses. Lighter oats and grain aromas are present. Very faintly, a hint of alcohol, too.
Medium-light as I'd expect a schwarzbier to be yet this one thickens up as it warms a little. Rolling waves of chocolate and caramel flavors swirl and merge together for a singularly sweet taste. As it moves back on the palate, a light coffee flavor makes an introduction and lingers mildly.
Overall, a really nice example of the style, one I wish I could find out here. Definitely worth picking up if you can.

09-16-2005 03:59:36 | More by Boilermaker88
Photo of NeroFiddled
NeroFiddled

Pennsylvania

4.35/5  rDev +6.9%

The black-brown robe of this quite authentic schwarzbier rests gently beneath a creamy head of khaki froth. The head retention is quite good, and it leaves spots of lace about the glass.
Suggestions of caramel and roasty dark chocolate abound in the nose, welcoming you to imbibe.
In the mouth it's delicately crisp with a very fine-bubbled, moderate carbonation.
The flavor is rich with a bready and caramelish malt, and notes of dark toffee, light chocolate, spent coffee grounds, and a delicate thread of fruitiness.
It finishes dry with a lingering note of dark chocolate.

09-14-2005 22:48:51 | More by NeroFiddled
Photo of BuckeyeNation
BuckeyeNation

Iowa

4.33/5  rDev +6.4%

Nearly opaque mahogany (suffused with deep crimson) with reddish gold edges reminiscent of autumn leaves. The head is three fingers after the pour and is a fetching shade of gingery beige. It demonstrates good persistence and leaves swaths of thick lace in a high collar when it eventually descends.

I haven't had too many schwarzbiers, but this is the best nose of the lot. There's a lovely mixture of chocolate and caramel that reminds me, strangely enough, of chocolate-covered caramels. There's also a faint molasses tang that I wish was more assertive. Although the nose in general could be more assertive, it's still a keeper. You'd think that with a hop bill as distinctive as this one (Cascade, Chinook, Mt. Hood and Tettnanger), I could appreciate hops in the nose. You'd be wrong though.

Black Bavarian is smashingly good. It's a curious combination of bold, dark flavor crammed into a lager body. A classic schwarzbier in other words. The flavor profile is a bewitching mixture of powdered dark chocolate, black coffee, burnt toffee (think Heath bars), sweet wood smoke and heavily toasted pecans. Hops are now an obvious contributor and are the secret ingredient that puts the flavor into orbit.

There's a minimal sweetness, a moderate sourness and a good deal of hoppy bitterness. This really is a 'best of both worlds' kind of beer and should please both lovers of malt and lovers of hops. Sprecher recommends drinking it at 60 degrees and I would concur. I started it at about 55 and I'm noticing a definite increase in an already bold flavor profile as it warms.

Roasted malt, with all of its attendant flavors, dominates the initial portion of each mouthful and then gradually gives way to hops. Odd for the style is the fact that the finish is dominated by citrus fruit. The mouthfeel is lagery light, yet has a stealth viscosity that makes it feel wonderful in the mouth. For once, I won't ask for a bigger body.

If Sprecher Black Bavarian contained cherries, it would be a dead ringer for the beer equivalent of Black Forest Cake. Come to think of it, that's not a bad idea. I'd hate to mess this one up, though, since it's such a fabulously complex, delicious beer as is. Is it the best American schwarzbier in existence? If not, it's damn close.

08-23-2005 16:11:03 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of goodbyeohio
goodbyeohio

Oregon

4.1/5  rDev +0.7%

thanks orbitalr0x for this unexpected treat. 16oz bottle pours perfectly into my harpoon munich dark pint/flute/pilsner/whatever this is..

dense but clear pour with blood red highlights. thin film of foam on top, very creamy. nose is very nutty with a big hit of vanilla. oatmeal drizzled with clover honey. expands as it warms. tastes great with a big thick and creamy mouthfeel. big roasted malts and overly hoppy for a schwarz. grassy finish thanks to the lager character and hops. oh, and there is a nice even bitterness that hangs around for a few. wow this beer is drinkable and a great example of american craft understanding of a rare euro beer style. havent been the biggest fan of sprecher but this one is the cat's meow

08-23-2005 12:51:54 | More by goodbyeohio
Photo of blitheringidiot
blitheringidiot

Pennsylvania

3.63/5  rDev -10.8%

Bottle breakout of dark brown meets black hues topped with a frothy settling spotty thin wafer cap.

Nose is a burnt malty, slightly licorice, and dark cake.

First swigs: Burnt black cold coffee flavor and astringency. Tobacco leaf notes ingrained with a hop balance that makes for a darn good black bavarian that was fairly cheap too. Dry and caramelized sugar finish. Lingering aftertaste.

Decent feel of middle ofthe road body and dense carbonation.

Last swigs: Loads of dark chocolate an caramel. Nice. Thanks to wbfarr for the heads up! Great suggestion.

Beer is good.

08-18-2005 05:00:01 | More by blitheringidiot
Photo of battlekow
battlekow

Wisconsin

3.85/5  rDev -5.4%

This is a pretty hard beer to describe. It's only the second schwarzbier I've had, and the first out of a bottle.

Pours pretty black, as you'd expect, with just a little bit of red light peeking through at the bottom. A nice, coffee-colored head, but not much lacing. Smells a little of funky fruits like prunes and dates, some hops, some malt, some alcohol (it's 6% ABV, which is apparently high for the style)...pretty complex. The taste is similarly multifaceted; upfront, you can taste that it's a malty lager, and then the bitter hoppiness hits you. Aftertaste is a lingering bitterness, but not like a porter or a stout--it's hoppy, not burnt, bitterness. There's also a tart fruitiness that's slightly unpleasant and seems to settle under the sides of your tongue.

This is definitely an interesting beer and an interesting style, but I can't say I'm extremely fond of it; it's a camel, with parts from a bunch of different styles. Still, it's easy to drink, so impress your friends and chug a really dark beer!

07-28-2005 02:46:37 | More by battlekow
Photo of GCBrewingCo
GCBrewingCo

North Carolina

4.13/5  rDev +1.5%

The beer poured into the glass black with a ruby highlight and a tan frothy head which rose tall and fell slowly to lace the glass.

The aroma was nutty and slightly biscuity with a chocolate and a light coffee impression. The aroma contained a light caramel and a light roasted component.

The flavor was malty with with a nice caramel maltiness coupled with a nutty and bready impression. Chocolate and coffee melded together in the lager beer for a very nice combination.

The finish was dry with a lasting chocolate and coffee flavor into the afteraste and beyond. The body was medium and well done. Very nice schwarzbier...highly drinkable with the dry finish.

16 ounce bottle. Thanks MABZ!

07-26-2005 00:10:55 | More by GCBrewingCo
Photo of Golden2wenty1
Golden2wenty1

Wisconsin

4.2/5  rDev +3.2%

Poured into a pint glass from a 16 oz. bottle at Wilson's Bar and Grill on Atwood Ave here in Madison. My first review of a german beer and first schwarzbier as well.

I've never seen such a dark lager before, pours porter black with a decent creamy tan head that fades to a spotty coating. Nose is subtle, slightly hoppy lager smell, with faint chocolate/coffee malts at the tail end. Taste follows suit, bitter chocolately malts balanced out by mild hops with some dark fruity notes. Mouthfeel is a little on the thin side, but its decent carbonation makes it refreshing on a summer day like today which is bordering 100 degrees. Gotta love Wisconsin summers. A pleasant surprise from Sprecher here. Their Special Amber was pretty good as well, but as a dark beer man, I enjoyed this one considerably more. Give it a try.

07-24-2005 20:45:15 | More by Golden2wenty1
Photo of neonbrown82
neonbrown82

Nebraska

4.13/5  rDev +1.5%

This is the first Schwarzbier I have ever had, and it's a damn fine brew at that.

The appearance is an inky black color with absolutely no light penetration, and only a thin but extremely creamy head. Leaves little to no lacing along the glass.


The smell is quite enticing. Smells like caramelized chocolatey malt character, slightly roasty. Smells like a good brown ale with a strong herbal hop in the background. Very earthy.

The taste is also remniscient of a good brown ale: caramel and chocolate malt, only a slight bit roasty. What sets this apart, though, is the hop character. The hops are slightly herbal and grassy with very little spiciness. It is quite well blended between the malt and hop flavors.

The mouthfeel is thick and chewey, just how I like it. Leaves a residual coffee bitterness in the finish, but doesn't end too dry. A slight piney hops character can be found as well.

Drinkability is good, and ABV isn't quite out of control, but nonetheless I couldn't picture myself sessioning these. It is too rich, and is better enjoyed at a snail's pace. Pick it up if you can.

07-13-2005 08:53:52 | More by neonbrown82
Photo of soper2000
soper2000

Texas

4.38/5  rDev +7.6%

I can't believe that this is my first time having this beer. I always seems to be my "second choice" at many bars if other offerings aren't available, but it always gets past over.

Anyways, it pours a beautiful dark ruby tinged brown with a long lasting 2 finger beige head. Aroma is intially very sweet, maybe overly sweet but nice little roasted notes round out the nose. Taste brings me back to Brazil where Schwarz's are fairly common. There is a nice interplay between the sweetness and slightly bitter roastiness that makes this a very versatile beer; great for sessioning or sipping. Top class beer from Sprecher and a great intro into Schwarz's as a style.

05-29-2005 00:19:35 | More by soper2000
Photo of beveragecaptain
beveragecaptain

New Jersey

4.1/5  rDev +0.7%

16 ounce bottle. Pours out a dark brown, tinted red. There is not much head. The aroma is dark malts with nuts. Dark roasted malt flavor at first. The hops come in with some spiciness. Medium mouthfeel, but big on flavor. This beer has a great balance between the malt and hops. I haven't had many schwarzbiers, but this is a very tasty one. Putting it in 16 ounce bottles is a nice touch, since 12 ounce bottles occasionally leave you thirsting for more.

05-14-2005 20:31:52 | More by beveragecaptain
Photo of twelvsies
twelvsies

Maine

4/5  rDev -1.7%

Pours a deep brown, almost black, with a mediocre head. Smells malty, though there's a bit of cream and sugar scent to it as well. The malt appears to be more roasted in the flavor, the roastiness creating sort of a burnt bitter crunch at the end, backed up by a small amount of hops. I'm getting some molases flavor, as well as some milky creamy notes and a nice dusty character that I'm always happy to see in this style. Really a lot of dark flavors in there with out the thickness and heaviness of a stout or a porter, a great alternative. Full of flavor with a medium mouthfeel. Very drinkable. If I didn't know it was from Wisconsin you could probably fool me into thinking this was an authentic German brew.

04-28-2005 15:00:19 | More by twelvsies
Photo of meathookjones
meathookjones

Virginia

4.47/5  rDev +9.8%

A big thanks to goes to Ben for this tasty brew. Pours out pitch black with a good sized foamy tan head. Decent retention and lacing are left around the glass. Roasty chocolate malts are in full force with a great caramel sweetness backing it up. Some bitter dark chocolate and a small amount of dark fruits aromas are in there as well. Very rich aroma. Taste starts off with a dose of caramel before the huge roastiness comes through. Chocolate is noted as well and this ends with a nice bitter roasty finish. Mouthfeel is medium and very rich and creamy. Goes down quite smooth, I could drink a large number of these. I wish I had a large number to drink as this would make a great session brew. This is really an excellent example of the style really wowed me.

03-09-2005 18:14:56 | More by meathookjones
Photo of karst
karst

Missouri

4.4/5  rDev +8.1%

Its 5:20 GMT just after noon in Mid Missouri. My tastebuds are just past their peak. Poured a full US pint from of hightly rated swartzbier from Glendale Wisconsin's Sprecher Brewing Co. at 50°F it is at its peak of smell and taste. (Putting down 200 lbs of lime on the lawn on a sunny 45° day helps whet the thirst). Held directly to the noonday sun a flare of Ruby set in a dark night of Black Bavarian Kulmbacher-style lager raises a distinctive heavy roasted aroma of caramel and chocolate malts from under its 1 cm tan head.

Sweet front, rich creamy caramel and malt middle and a plesant acid end. Hop bitterness and bittersweet chocolate finish.

Finishes with a few seconds of lingering bitterness calling for a bite of Brat and cheese at the end of each drink of this fine brew, but alas have none.

03-08-2005 20:02:49 | More by karst
Photo of LuckySevens82
LuckySevens82

Florida

4/5  rDev -1.7%

16oz bottle courtesy of ppoitras...thanks Pete!
Pours a deep brown into an imperial pint. Capped off by a very dense tan head with nice lacing and retention.
Aroma is very malty, bready goodness, toasted malts, and raisins dominate.
Flavor is almost exactly what I would have expected from the nose. Lots of bready and toasted malts, some raisins, dark cherries, and just a little bit of spicy hops.
Overall, a very good beer.

03-01-2005 23:03:37 | More by LuckySevens82
Photo of bnuttz
bnuttz

Wisconsin

4.43/5  rDev +8.8%

Pours a ruby dark brown/black with a fizzy tan head. Smells of roasted nuts and slight coffee, very mild smell. Taste is exceptional. Slight coffee and chocolate notes, a definite acidic bitterness from the malts shines throught. Hopping is mild. Yeast makes a small twangy appearance towards the end. Mouthfeel is great, very smooth, and full, yet light, making this beer very drinkable. A top notch session dark beer. I love this stuff and am thankful to live in Milwaukee because this stuff is readily available on tap. It is even better on tap.

02-25-2005 04:37:15 | More by bnuttz
Black Bavarian from Sprecher Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 742 ratings.