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Black Bavarian - Sprecher Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Black BavarianBlack Bavarian

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

786 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 786
Reviews: 455
rAvg: 4.07
pDev: 10.57%
Wants: 111
Gots: 44 | 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)
View: Beers (41) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 786 | Reviews: 455 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of longarm
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of zjungleist
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of dirtylou
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of Boilermaker88
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.33/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of goodbyeohio
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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

Photo of blitheringidiot
3.63/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of battlekow
3.85/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 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!

Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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!

Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of neonbrown82
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of soper2000
4.38/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of beveragecaptain
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of twelvsies
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of meathookjones
4.47/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of karst
4.4/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

Photo of LuckySevens82
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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.

Photo of bnuttz
4.43/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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.

Photo of Vancer
3.48/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I too was impressed with the black pour from the 16oz bottle, with good inch tan head. Could see the ruby/brown undertones when held to the light. Nice, choc lately malt aroma, smooth easy taste. Not quite as much *earthy, grainy* taste as other black beers. Good lite to medium texture and tingle in the first half of the pint, but the tingle died somewhat by the end. Should have had a couple more to double-check drinkablity.

Photo of adams82
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz. Bottle, dated 4/2/02. I assume this is the bottling date, nearly 3 years old!

Pours a deep ruby black. May appear pitch black at first, but hold it up to a light and marvel at the nearly translucent ruby hue of this excellent beer. The body is nicely complimented by a thin, lacy, tan head. Maybe the lack of a billowy head is a by product of such an old bottle?

Smells of sweet roasted caramel and hints of sweet, slightly burnt, chocolate. Malt character is very pronounced, and very intriguing.

The taste offers one more characteristic that is not apparent in the aroma. Coffee. Caramel is still there, the chocolate is somewhat subdued, while the coffee flavor really comes through to the forefront. Not overpowering, but noticeable as you sip on the black liquid. It also adds a nice balance of bitterness to what you might first assume would be a malty, unbalanced, beer upon smelling it. Again, maybe a characteristic of an older bottle.

Mouthfeel is good! I would call this a medium body beer, as it exhibits a slightly watery feel upon the first part of your sip, but as you begin to take it down, it seems to expand a bit and becomes creamier and more robust. Smooth as well!

Drinkability is good as well. Not really a session beer, as the ABV is slightly higher than what I consider a session beer to be, paired with 16oz. servings, it could catch up you fast. However, it should be fairly easy to down a four pack, as it is creamy and smooth, and still want more.

One of my favorite offerings of all time. Too bad the only local source for this beer seems to stock older bottles. I am sure that a fresher bottle would exhibit atleast some hint of coffee, and have a more pronounced feel to it. I get this as often as I am able to and I enjoy every sip!

Photo of mntlover
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a black by looking at it held to light can see ruby thru the glass nice coco colored head that falls not much lace.
Aroma is creamy roasted chocolate malt liquid smoke earthy smells like burnt wet wood mix strange and enticing.
Taste is good chocolate malt creamy and dryish smokey flavors, light coffee notes mix with some herbal hops lightly bitter with smokey aftertastes. My first try at a Schwarzbier after reading about them today on BA have to find that Sam Adams but doubt its as good. Want to thank merlin48 for this sample.
Mouthfeel is nice mediumish but is smooth and creamy almost very nice feeling.
Drinkability is good very tastey lager will be adding this to the short list of the other two lagers I actually enjoy. Hope I can find this down south.

Photo of SheepNutz
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16oz. bottle poured into a snifter. It pours a deep black color with two fingers of light tan head. There is just a little bit of lacing left on the glass. The smell is rich in roasted malt. There's lots of chocolate and a little touch of smoke to the nose as well. The taste is chock full of burnt malt. A bit of caramelized sugar and a sweet finish. The mouthfeel is solid and smooth. The drinkability is good as well. A big thanks to Kevin (kmpitz2) for sharing this during the UK/Arkansas game.

Photo of warriorsoul
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A big "thanks" for the second of three offerings from onecrazymofo.
The name says it all....not a fleck of light is passing through this baby. I'd like to view it on a real sunny day and have another look...another time, another beer.
A finger of creamy, tan head. Chocolate and coffee apparent...a clean plentiful aroma to take in.
Taste is a well-balanced brew. This is my first taste of a schwarzbier and I'm liking it. A nice smoked flavor that is very subtle and lasting. I want to compare it to Atlantic's Coal Porter, but with a bit more going on.
Texture is a bit dry, but not bitter at all. Drinkability is very easy with this one....thanks again onecrazymofo....you know a good beer when you drink one.

Photo of merlin48
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1 pint bottle pours a dark and opaque body with a small tan head. Almost looks like a stout. Leaves some good patchy lace.
Aroma is chocolate and roasty malt, herbal hops, and a hint of charcoal.
Mouthfeel is smooth and medium bodied with moderate carbonation.
The taste is nicely balanced between chocolate malt and floral hop bitterness. Sweetness wins out, but there is plenty of roast and hop bitterness to keep it from being cloying. Very well constructed.
I really enjoy this style, and this Sprecher is a fine example.

Black Bavarian from Sprecher Brewing Company
91 out of 100 based on 786 ratings.