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Schwartz Bier - Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Schwartz BierSchwartz Bier

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

45 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 45
Hads: 266
Avg: 3.79
pDev: 26.91%
Wants: 11
Gots: 58 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Devils Backbone Brewing Company visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
Schwarzbier |  4.90% ABV

Availability: Summer

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: on 07-24-2009

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 45 | Hads: 266
Photo of Marraybay
2/5  rDev -47.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured from a 12oz bottle. Dry, bitter, nothing remarkable wrt presentation or mouthfeel. No elements of sweetness: A somewhat one dimensional taste profile. Would definitely recommend New Belgium's 1554 as a better alternative black beer, at least given my experience, but as always, one-oft bottles may not be entirely representative, as some are reporting far pleasanter experiences.

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Photo of rdilauro
2.75/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

My first Schwartz Bier... Just when you think you have tried so many different beers.
This one poured jet black like a stout except you could tell it was much thinner and lighter.
There wasnt a pronounce nose except for a faint hint of European hops which I normally find in German and Czech Pilsners.
This beer went do very easy, almost too easy. I could see why sitting around a table it would be very easy to drink a number of these

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Photo of Cyrion
2.97/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a standard shaker pint.

Appearance: Very dark, basically black. Sports a 2 inch tan head. A great deal of carbonation on the sides. Leaves attractive concentric rings around the glass.

Smell: Sweet toffee. I'd even say it has a sugary pastry smell, like a hot cross bun. Chocolate is there, as well as a slight amount of coffee.

Taste: Chocolate malt, with very little coffee bitterness. There's a bit of toast here and dark fruit, but frankly, these are being drowned out. A strong metallic flavor appears quickly, and when combined with the heavy carbonation, it's tasting a bit like a cola soda. Very unappealing, and it's leaving a citric acid aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Very thin.

Overall: Not sure if the metallic cola taste is an undesired element or not, but the end result is a brackish lager that has limited appeal.

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Photo of CrellMoset
3.26/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

"In a brewery far, far away" states the miniature tagline above the name of this beer on Devil's Backbone's giant chalkboard.

Appearance: A dark mahogany but transparent (telltale Schwarz, there) bodied brew, capped by one-finger of slightly tan head, that fades relatively quickly in to a thick sheen. Carbonation is sparse, but relatively large and slow. As the sip begins there is plenty of sticky carbonation, blotchy and spotty all over the sip side of the glass, which is a good indication of staying power.

Aroma: Largely devoid of anything, really - agitation gets a few grainy toast notes out, and a few fainter grassy hop notes. There's not really much going on here, unfortunately.

Taste: Mild and a little watery. Moderate toastiness, faint earthiness, fainter chocolate, and a few lighter, sweeter, roasty notes, and a faint moderate hop bitterness in the fade compromise the bulk of this one. It's a little on the grainy side - that is, due to the lack of characteristics that jump out at me on this one, the grainy husky notes come through a little stronger.

Mouthfeel: A moderately thin body with a moderate amount of carbonation. It's not as thin as I thought it was at first, and it's also more even than I thought it was at first, but that's not necessarily a good thing, as the increased body isn't accompanied by a comparable "flavor" increase, which thus brings the relative mediocrity of the flavor profile in to stark contrast.

Drinkability: Just not a very flavorful beer, which is a big knock in my book. However, given that this generally is not considered to be a very "flavorful" style - in my opinion, at least, and I know there are likely many who disagree (perhaps my palette is simply not "refined" enough) - I can't necessarily knock it too much. At 4.9% abv, it's also not terribly unquaffable, regardless of the flavor-quotient. It's worth a try once, but like with so many DBB brews, I'm not sure if I'd come back for a second glass.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.34/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

my first beer from these guys is a bit of a let down. it tastes a bit stale, like a crummy euro dark lager all extracty and weird. dark in color, more like a porter in looks than a dark ale, rather dense and not super heady after the initial gush fades down. a nose of tale dark roasted grain and lager yeast, nothing seems alive or fresh about it, flavors are all muted, and the yeast is just weird. i have heard these guys make some great stuff, but this is a pretty uninspiring introduction to this brewery. lacking the nice carbonation and quick finish of the better schwarz types, and not really giving me much grain character at all. it makes me thirsty for a good one. it also seems a bit thick and under carbonated, not the feel i am really after in the style. all up, there is nothing particularly bad about it, but it just never really comes together, something with the yeast i think, but this one is forgettable for me.

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Photo of obywan59
3.41/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown, but shows ruby highlights when held up to a light. Tannish 2 finger head that recedes leaving minimal lacing.

Light malt and spicy hops. A bit of chocolate. Sspice predominates.

Dry and tart. Again a hint of chocolate. Light citrus and a light bitter follow through.

Mouthfeel is moderate. Carbonation is noticeable. A bit drying.

This beer is okay. Maybe DB is targeting mass appeal, but to me this is on the B list. It's very drinkable and would make for an easy session. Definitely better than the macros. but a bit of a let down for those with a more adventurous taste.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.46/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a dark brown color. The head is a finger high, mocha in shade, and VERY creamy-looking. Retention is fine enough for the style, while a nice ring of lacing is left on the glass.

S: Some solid brown sugar notes are coming through quite well. There are also lighter aromas of coffee and chocolate. This is a pleasant nose in general - mild, but pleasant.

T: Fairly roasty for the style. While there's an initial and lesser finishing note of brown sugar, in the middle lies a good amount of roasted coffee. A combination of sweet caramel and gentle noble hopping builds up slightly after a few sips. I'm glad it isn't overly cola-esque, too.

M: This one feels rather sharp-edged, light, and coarse on the palate. Those who aren't bothered by the 'bite' will find a dry (not bone-dry), drinkable offering. The intense carbonation should be toned down about 10%, though.

O: This is the first beer from these guys that I didn't find utterly average. It's very easy to drink, yet with a decent coffee flavor. I'd definitely drink this again.

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Photo of Minkybut
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 45 degrees. The beer was really black and it poured a nice head. The beer smelled like beer, sorry! The beer had a malty taste and was very pleasant to drink. I would certainly buy this beer again. This seems to be a good beer company.

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Photo of Immortale25
3.62/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a snifter. No freshness date.

A- Pours a fully opaque black color with a 1/2 inch tan head that retains a bit before becoming a thick ring around the edge of the glass and a half sheet of surface foam. Resilient lacing trickles down the glass leaving a jagged ring behind.

S- Metallic aroma with some dark roast and coffee. Also has some nuttiness.

T- Flavor is a bit more enjoyable with some smooth dark roast and chocolate. Very easy drinking due to barely any alcohol being detected. Slightly bitter from the hops and roast.

M- Thin, even for a dark lager. Medium carbonation and a body that's a bit too light.

O- Certainly quaffable, but doesn't have much character.

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Photo of Darkmagus82
3.65/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a deep black color with ruby highlight seen shinning through the body when held up to the light. Upon pouring there was a big billowy cream almost grayish head that faded relatively quickly as the large carbonation bubbles popped. One the head receded it left a persistent film on the brew with a moderate level of lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – The aroma was heaviest of roasted malt with some hints of a more bitter cocoa mixed within. Other lighter hop aromas of a earthy and herbal nature were mixed with these giving a dry and roasty aroma overall.

Taste – The taste begins with a roasted malt flavor of a toasted dark bread, some caramel and a bit coffee. Notes of a semi-sweet cocoa come to the tongue more toward the middle where they sweeten the taste ever sol slightly. Notes of char and a earthy hop flavor then come to the tongue more toward the end, leaving a drier, but overall relatively smooth flavor on the tongue.

Mouthfeel –The body of the beer was on the medium to slightly above medium side in terms of its creaminess with a carbonation level that was average to slightly on the higher side. The creamier body was fantastic for the roasty and toasty flavor of the brew while the carbonation level keep it on the easy drinking and more refreshing side.

Overall – A pretty nice brew overall with a good roasty flavor and nice drinkability.

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Photo of qchic
3.69/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Well done Schwartz bier. Looks nice, subtle roasty aroma and smooth, smooth drinking! Nice afternoon beer to begin a session. Recommended when trying to not overdo it.

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Photo of RonaldTheriot
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Devil’s Backbone Schwartz Bier has a thin-to-medium, cream-colored head, a very dark brown (lighter around the edges) appearance, some visible stray bubbles, and moderate lacing left behind. The aroma is of toasted, dark bread crust, some cream, and general malt. Taste is of sweet malt, bread crust, and just a kiss of the hops. Mouthfeel is light to medium, and Devil’s Backbone Schwartz Bier finishes semi-wet and highly drinkable.


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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a deep, dark, auburn highlighted, brown coloring with a halo of off-white head. Aromas of richly sweet nut and chocolate, smoky highlights, and a bitter coffee backbone. Flavors are richly sweet forward, nutty, creamy, and with chocolate highlights. There are roasted overtones, hints of smoke, and a tangy cream profile at the end of the palate. Mid-bodied, with a slight effervescence, and a dry undertone. The aftertaste is a subtle smoky highlighted blend of candy-like sweet notes all blending together. Smooth, slightly dry, slightly effervesced finish. Not bad.

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Photo of Zraly
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.75

Pours dark with deep brown highlights and a nice, fluffy tan head into a pilsner glass. Smell fresh with roasted malt and earth notes.

Rich and earthy, this is a nice black lager. Chocolate notes meld nicely with caramel flavors. The mouthfeel is a bit on the prickly side due to the carbonation. While ample carbonation is necessary, this is a bit sharp and distracts a bit from what is otherwise a solid, enjoyable brew; the overall mouthfeel is affected by the super-sharpness of the carbonation. Medium-bodied. I think I would like to try this on tap and see how it translates.

I'm a big fan of schwarzbier, especially on cooler evenings in the spring and fall. Would make for a good BBQ beverage.

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Photo of TheLibertyFlamesTaster
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Very dark in color.
Very little light shines trough the berr.
Smell-A sweet almost licorice smell.
Taste- Lots of carbonation up front. smoky sweetness is the taste,
Pretty good beer.

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Photo of IPhantom
3.76/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Pours an awesome brown-black, like an extremely well-foamed cup of French pressed coffee. Thick head with copious lacing looks like the foam on top of a great root beer float. Smell is roasty malts, a little toffee, a little coffee, and maybe just the slightest hint of vinous dark fruit. Taste is sweet coffee malt, pleasantly burnt flavors, and some crisp hops. Finish cleans up nicely with some tannic, almost tobacco-like notes. Mouthfeel is surprisingly crisp and not cloying, with the hop finish rounding out nicely.

Although I would have preferred a little more sweetness, this is nonetheless a fine alternative beer for summers, especially if you like to spend yours eating charred meats and sitting around campfires until all hours of the night.

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Photo of chilly460
3.8/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Poured a clear, auburn brown, quite dark as expected. No head at all for this pour, just a light ring of bubbles around the outside of the glass. Swishing brought minimal carbonation to the top. Little in the way of lacing as well.

S: Somewhat muted, even as it warmed. First impression is toasted grain, with a bit of more robust roasted malts in there as well. Earthy, grassy hops are in the background.

T: Again, the taste came through as mild. Initially get that toasted grain, some more roasted malt as picked up in the aroma as well. As it warms, started to get a bit of sweet chocolate, and some caramel sweetness too. Not a flavor bomb, but it grew on me, like a good bowl of cereal.

M: Somewhat thin body, very crisp, although doesn't appear to be heavily carbonated. Do not get a 'prickly' carbonation from it.

O: This is not the most robust beer, but I believe it works as a nice session beer. It's warm and refreshing, with a grainy profile that is nice to sip.

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Photo of oberon
3.81/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours into my schwarbier glass a deep cola color with a light beige head sitting perfectly atop,just a great pour.Aromas of chocolate and earth with light roast...not overpowering,smells like a great dessert beer.Chocolaty sweet flavors but not overly so,some more brown sugar comes into play giving more sweetness but a big earthy backbone keeps the sweetness from taking over,roast is bigger as I drink more but the lager smoothness holds thr to the finish.I like this rendition of the style,it's alot better than most American versions in my opinion.

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Photo of cyclonece09
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a 14 oz "pint" glass. Pours reddish black with a small off white head. Smells of coffee. Tastes of dark roasted grain and coffee. Beer is light bodied and good carbonation, nice finish. Overall a very good beer.

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Photo of delta490
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%

Pours an almost black dark brown. Moderate light tan head melts away quickly. The aroma is dark caramel sweetness, a light roasted malt note and a little earthy hops. It's also very light. The taste is very similar with an interesting vanilla note in the middle. The body is lighter and there is a little carbonation on the finish.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured a blackish body with two finger offwhite head that took forever to die and left sticky lace. Hearty, roasted malt aroma with good notes of dark chocolate and some caramel and I don't pick up too much of a hop presence but it's there. Light to medium bodied and easily passes the tongue but not watery, a touch of fluffy yeast for that fuller bodied sensation but mostly an easy passer. Taste is mostly the malts, a good balance of roasted malts and bready dark chocolate with some caramel, and a nice if not equal job done by the hops for balance and a little citric hop flavors in there. Not the most flavorful or exotic beer one is going to find but this hits all the basic attributes just fine and is an easy to drink beer that one can relax with.

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Photo of KWrightVT
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I had never had a black lager before, but was pleasantly surprised. This was poured into a half pint glass from the tap at Devil's Backbone Outpost. Very nice dark brown to black color, with very little head. Aroma was nice and toasty, with slight coffee and chocolate hints. Mouthfeel was light. Excellent stout-like flavor, without being overly powerful. A great drinkable beer with good flavor and balance.

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Photo of chinchill
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle with a 22 Sept. 2014 date stamp.

Pours clear, dark red-brown with a decent head, but the head soon reduces to a ring.

True to style, this is a very well crafted Schwarzbier. Plenty of sweet toffee in the aroma; caramel, coffee and black bread in the flavor. Lightly sweet.

O: Nearly as good as Sprecher's, this is highly recommended for style

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Photo of Beer-A-Lot
3.88/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured into pint.

A solid and satisfying, easy drinking beer. It probably could use just a bit more body or fruits to give it more oomph, but it still is pretty tasty. Probably my favorite beer from this brewery so far. A good sessionable beer to go with food, since it won't fill you too much.

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Photo of arizcards
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Picked up a single from Downtown Wine & Gourmet while visiting in Harrisonburg back in late September for $1.79. "Boned On" 3-8-13. Been residing in my beer fridge since late September.

Beer poured black with a decent tan head that is hanging around.

Nose is roasted malts and a hint of cocoa.

Taste is roasty with some cocoa.

Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied with lager smoothness in the end.

Overall this is a well done Schwartz style. This must be very good when fresh. Give it a shot if you come across it!

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Schwartz Bier from Devils Backbone Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 45 ratings.