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

750 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 750
Reviews: 453
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 10.57%
Wants: 102
Gots: 32 | 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: 750 | Reviews: 453 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of taez555
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%

I know it's written right on the label that's it's brewed in Wisconsin, but seriously... you really need to read the fine print or else you might think this is a German brew.

This beer poured a black body with a thin tan head.

Nose had some grain, milk chocolate, figs, caramel, brown sugar, mild burnt smoke and that classic earthy german yeast smell.

Taste was medium bodied and very creamy. Smooth from start to finish. A large carbonation brings out a rather bitter hoppiness in the back-end. Not really much in the way of hop taste other than some mild earth and dirt flavor. Very malty with a slight roasted burnt flavor but very muted and never distracting. Touches of dark fruits. Raisins, figs and even some prunes. A dark coffee, dark chocolate and espresso notes flow.

Really a very nice schwarzbier. A big bitterness and some dark malts. If you're in the mood for dark lagers this is a winner.

taez555, May 20, 2006
Photo of scruffwhor
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%

Appearance- Pours a slowly rising to three finger head tha makes a slow recession to nothingness on the surface of my 16oz's of beer. Color is a deep, deep brown with some brownie/blood highlights.

Smell- Your are hit with complex malt aromas of smokey beech wood, toasty and roasty breads. With a lager like pop in the nostrils for the finish.

Taste- Strta out with mostly roost, but then you catch resurging waffs of smoke intermitant with a middle of toasty malts and a little burnt lager like grass flavors in the end.

Mouthfeel- The malts were awesome moving over my mouth. They mixed well with my garlic enveloped pizza. A little cloying...maybe. The malts I mean.

scruffwhor, May 19, 2006
Photo of objectivemonkey
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%

Pours a deep black with just the slightest ruby tones around the edges, a thick long lasting tan head, bubbles here and there, lacing sticking to the glass, breaking up into strands on the way down.. quite nice. Aroma, as advertised, is caramel and chocolate malts, taking on faintly roasted and spiced tones. Taste is a nice slide from roasty malts to a dry, bitter, and almost hopped end. Notes of chocolate and espresso, molasses and burnt malt. Mouth is a not as thick as it looks, which is a little disappointing, but otherwise good, mostly smooth with a slight spring to keep things interesting. And while it isn't as thick as I'd hoped, it makes it a little easier to drink, and combined with the good look, smell, and taste, I'm thinking I'll stock this a little more often now. Definitely Sprechers best offering, a classic midwest brew.

objectivemonkey, Apr 30, 2006
Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.03/5  rDev -1%

Interesting-looking 16 ounce dark-brown bottle. Wish more American brewers would bottle their "normal" beers in this size! The label indicates an ABV of 6%.

Moderate pour produced an immensely huge tan head (mildly reverse-cascading!), over an opaque black-ruby body. As the head tightens and reduces, it gets rocky and chunky, and the lacing sticks like paint to the glass.

Smell is caramel, chocolate, burnt sugar, malty malted malt, with some fig and raisins. Hops? There's a SLIGHT peppery hint.

Taste is espresso, chocolate, burnt toast, biscuity malt, with a very dry bitter finish.

Mouthfeel is way more thin than the head and lacing made me think it would be.

Very quaffable.

Overall, a fascinating mix of Doppelbock smell and lager mouthfeel. Surprisingly good.

Cudos and thanks to shbobdb for hooking me up with this excellent midwestern brew. I had never even heard of it. Oh, the joys of a blind trade!

ColoradoBobs, Apr 23, 2006
Photo of Redrover
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%

16 oz brown bottle, I forgot to check for freshness dating.

The beer pours a nice black with brown highlights. A compact tan head and nice lacing add up to an attractive beer.

The nose is of slightly roasted malts, a bit of fruits and a touch of sugar. Also a bit earthy.

The taste is similar to the smell. I like how the toasted malts interact with the slightly bitter hops. The beer is sweet in the best way. Complex enough to keep you interested. The earthy taste lingers in the background and compliments the molasses taste which emerges late.

Nice brisk mouth helps off-set the beer’s slight trend towards a syrupy feel. Extremely easy drinker, a great beer to pair with hearty food or to enjoy on its own.

Well done Sprecher!

Redrover, Mar 20, 2006
Photo of alexgash
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%

Dark, oily brown with cola-amber edges that barely let the light pass. Light creamy tan head.

Charred, toasted, roasted malt/barley. Soda-like sweetness rises above somehow. Molasses, a little smoke, and coffee bitterness.

Balanced sweetness and toasted bitterness up front. Scorched brown sugar perhaps? Roasted, smoky bitterness pervades. Very nice. Light warming alcohol in the finish with lingering malt and roasted bitterness.

Medium plus body with an oily feel.

Muy bien!

alexgash, Mar 02, 2006
Photo of shbobdb
4.53/5  rDev +11.3%

Well, well, well. What a fine beer we have here. The dark malts really shine through, giving this beer a deep roasted chocolate flavour as velvety as its mouthfeel. Wow. It looks nice too, with a pitch black body and nice brown head that collapses into a fine lace. Mmmm.
Very drinkable. Very delicious. It's smell is forgettable, but this beer isn't!

shbobdb, Feb 24, 2006
Photo of WesWes
4/5  rDev -1.7%

The beer pours a deep, dark black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is good. It has a nice complex malt scent that boasts of crystal, chocolate, roasted, and black malts. It's sweet smelling with chocolate notes along with a slightly earthy/roasted edge. The taste is good also. It has a smooth chocolatey flavor that goes down easy and finishes sweet and a bit dry. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a medium/full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a very good dark lager. It has excellent flavor and aroma; a good drinker.

WesWes, Jan 23, 2006
Photo of blackie
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.

blackie, Jan 08, 2006
Photo of OldSock
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.

OldSock, Dec 28, 2005
Photo of soulgrowl
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.

soulgrowl, Dec 23, 2005
Photo of nomad
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.?

nomad, Dec 03, 2005
Photo of Stimack
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.

Stimack, Nov 28, 2005
Photo of DaPeculierDane
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.

DaPeculierDane, Nov 11, 2005
Photo of longarm
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.

longarm, Nov 07, 2005
Photo of zjungleist
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.

zjungleist, Nov 05, 2005
Photo of dirtylou
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.

dirtylou, Oct 09, 2005
Photo of Boilermaker88
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.

Boilermaker88, Sep 16, 2005
Photo of NeroFiddled
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.

NeroFiddled, Sep 14, 2005
Photo of BuckeyeNation
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.

BuckeyeNation, Aug 23, 2005
Photo of goodbyeohio
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

goodbyeohio, Aug 23, 2005
Photo of blitheringidiot
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.

blitheringidiot, Aug 18, 2005
Photo of battlekow
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!

battlekow, Jul 28, 2005
Photo of GCBrewingCo
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!

GCBrewingCo, Jul 26, 2005
Photo of Golden2wenty1
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.

Golden2wenty1, Jul 24, 2005
Black Bavarian from Sprecher Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 750 ratings.