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Death & Taxes Black Beer - Moonlight Brewing Company

Death & Taxes Black BeerDeath & Taxes Black Beer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

226 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 226
Reviews: 121
rAvg: 4.19
pDev: 9.79%

Brewed by:
Moonlight Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Euro Dark Lager |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 10-11-2003)
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Ratings: 226 | Reviews: 121 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of magictacosinus


4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

In my journey of rediscovering the beauty of Moonlight Brewing's offerings, I luckily found a place that had this in addition to Reality Czech. Poured on tap into a shaker pint glass at Thalassa.

Wow, this has to be the most opaque and blackened dark Euro lager I've ever seen! Granted, when held against the light it does promote a bit of reddish, plum hue, but it's overall quite dark and its off-khaki head would convince anybody that it was a stout, a porter, or something similar. Head retention is best for this beer in these crappy shaker pint glasses compared Moonlight's other offerings, as it leaves behind about a half finger of head rather an a ring, as well as extra sticky splattered lacing at the glass's edges as it dissipates.

Whoa, smells like a porter (or stout) as well! Big roasted notes resembling cold pressed coffee, some dark chocolate, black licorice, as well as some notes of raisins, prunes, and light bittered berries. Contains a green tea tannic consistency at the back, as well as some notes of black pepper. Quite malty and charred at the finish, resembling pumpernickel or something similar. The roasted grainy sensations get a bit oppressive in the long run (as the does the licorice), but it's remarkable to see a lager produce a bready flavor of this caliber, even here. Let's see how it translates to the flavor.

As expected, this is a tremendously high roasted malt bomb - although it's luckily enjoyable overall due to the variety of flavors that go with it. It starts with a rich charred and toasted graininess that coats the palate with an extreme astringency, which then is washed up by the coffee and chocolate notes, as well as the brief hints of raisins and cherry pits, as well as some molasses. The finish is a little less astringent, although it contains similar herbal properties to black tea, sage, and (yes) some anise. Slightly leathery as well, which comes as one hell of a surprise. It's an amazingly dense flavor, and the low ABV makes it nearly sessionable, but I feel it may also be to its detriment - there's a lack of residual sweetness and body that makes it a little difficult to wade through, and this becomes a bit of a drag to finish over time, unfortunately. While I could down a ton of their Reality Czech beers, I'd never be able to that here. Good, but a bit challenging at times.

This is by far their most intensely flavored beer I've been able to sample from them so far, but it's also the most challenging to finish a full pint of, unfortunately. I'm astonished on how a dark lager could ever taste this bready, thick, and intense, and yet still retain a low gravity. Definitely not a bad offering during the colder months, however - and I always gladly revisit this whenever I'm in the mood. Recommended for those wanting an adventurous new favorite lager!

Serving type: on-tap

03-06-2014 08:24:07 | More by magictacosinus
Photo of RaulMondesi


4.34/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Toronado in San Francisco, CA.

It took a sip or two, but after the third one, Raulsky almost done lost his mind like Nietzsche in 1889. As I came back from my stupor, I was awaked by beautiful and glorious notes of chocolate and roasted coffee. Then, as the main man went in for another sip, it was almost his mind that became roasted. Beautiful and "light," but light with rich and robust flavors.

I suggest riding the Midnight Ghost like Kerouac up to San Francisco to try this one, my children.

Serving type: on-tap

11-12-2013 07:36:43 | More by RaulMondesi
Photo of Murrhey


3.25/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured on-tap at Beachwood Brewing in Seal Beach, Calif. in a tulip glass. Reviewed from notes.

A- Finger and a half cream-colored head. Long retention. Great lacing. Black beer, no light permeates.

S- Extremely dry smell, chocolate and deep roast smells. Kind of muted though. Bitter and dry, roast flavors with a light body. Finishes with roast malts and barley.

M- Light bodied and dry, a hoppy lager.

O- Middling black lager. Apparently I am totally bucking the reviews. I wish I had another chance to review this.

Serving type: on-tap

11-15-2012 01:59:23 | More by Murrhey
Photo of jethrodium


4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap. Pours a very dark brown with small tan head that has good retention and leaves some light lacing on the glass. The aroma is quite roasty with a bit of coffee and some light dark chocolate. The taste is dry and roasty with light coffee and dark bitter chocolate. The finish is dry with some roastiness and a light bitterness. Lingering roastiness. Light body. Medium carbonation. This is quite enjoyable. A light bodied, dry, roasty beer that you can easily have several of. Awesome.

Serving type: on-tap

11-01-2012 04:57:23 | More by jethrodium
Photo of CAMRAhardliner

Ontario (Canada)

4.4/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed a pint of this on tap at the Toronado in San Francisco. This review is from notes.

Pours black as night with just a few amber glints at the edges of the glass. The tan head is compact but coats most of the glass in lace. Chocolatey notes mix with a doughy, cracker maltiness in the nose. The taste is crisp and malty. Chocolate and coffee notes mix with a subtle leafy hoppiness. The mouthfeel is light-bodied, nothing like you'd expect looking at the stuff. Carbonation is very subtle, like silk.

This is a stellar Black Lager. Incredibly fresh the deep malt flavors, yet still light and extremely quaffable. Seek this out if you're in the bay area.

Serving type: on-tap

10-07-2012 16:55:54 | More by CAMRAhardliner
Photo of trxxpaxxs

New York

4.3/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to stupac2 for shipping me this growler/bottle...

A: Pours a deep brawn, basically black, with about a half finger of dark mocha colored head. the foam settles fairly quickly, but a nice froth around the edges is left. There is no lacing as it drinks.

S: The nose is roast, burnt toast, dark chocolate, and walnuts. There is a slight funk to it, but not to it's detriment.

T: Damn. This beer is a great mix of sweet and roasty right off the bat. It follows the nose is notes of burnt toast, dark chocolate, nuts, caramel, and bread. I pick up some mild licorice notes in the middle, and it finishes with some solid hop bitters. Really interesting and pretty darn tasty.

M: Medium bodied beer. The flavors are great, it's not too thick, and it's unbelievably drinkable. It's smooth from start to finish and finishes creamy.

O: Great beer. It seems fairly complex and it's gets even zanier as ti warms. I'm actually really impressed. Damn. I'd drink this all day long if I could. Solid!

Serving type: growler

08-30-2012 23:51:27 | More by trxxpaxxs
Photo of RblWthACoz


4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow. Hallelujah. Thats the first thing that comes to mind after I take a whiff of this one...and taste it. The complexities of this one almost seem like a porter or stout. But it's a lager?! Brilliant. Amazing beer. This is one of my top beers of the year. I appreciate when brewers can make beers outside of the popular styles of the day and really do it well. This is one of those beers. A real pleasure to drink. This would garner my highest suggestion for a beer to try. Do it if ya get the chance.

Serving type: on-tap

08-30-2012 17:07:32 | More by RblWthACoz
Photo of Philousa


4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Imbibed at Hop Monk, Sonoma on 8/18/11. Reviewed from notes.

Very dark, black. Half a finger tan head. Aroma is very dark and chocolatey, seems creamy. A touch of burnt coffee. Taste starts creamy, transitions to tart amber, then chocolate and caramel. Feel ends up being light and near watery.

I could drink this half liter for a while. Great rendition of a dark lager. Lots of flavor but still very light. I only give a 4 overall because this isn't my favorite style to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

08-23-2012 21:06:01 | More by Philousa
Photo of Urbancaver


4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks Stu for this hook up
poors a dark black or brown ... nice tan head with good retention
smells smokey and malty. taste sweet and very flavorful ... lots of roast and malty goodness ... well carbonated good mouth feel ... overall a really good representation of the style

Serving type: growler

08-22-2012 02:05:55 | More by Urbancaver
Photo of elNopalero


5/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nothing certain in this world except how tasty this brew is.

This is draught-only and pours a solid dark black color with tight foam that turns into tiny compacted bubbles sitting on the top.
The aroma has a nuanced roast which contrasts with a pleasing malty sweetness. It’s a day and night contrast, as the dark roast meets a welcoming sweetness, almost like a milk stout’s tart lactic notes.

It looks, smells, and feels like a stout, almost, with an easy-sipping smoothness in spite of the roasted notes. The flavor is smooth with roast and bittering to define it, as well as a robust roast and a dry finish. It’s full flavored, with so much going on, and it remains one of my absolute favorite brews. Brian Hunt is an unsung marvel of brewing. Bravo!

Serving type: on-tap

07-31-2012 07:37:55 | More by elNopalero
Photo of Jsenay


4.53/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served on draft at Monk's Kettle into moonlight glassware.

A - Tar Black with light head that dissipates slowly. Has a nice even lacing.

S - Heavy malt, Coffee and dark chocolate

T - Sweet and smoky, burnt coffee/chocolate comes to mind as it warms, there are some slight vanilla notes.

M - Smooth with subtle carbonation. Finishes dry and malty. Coats the mouth with a smoky film.

O - Delicious. Would be excellent with a dark chocolate dessert or perhaps a nice charred steak and garlic potatoes. Highly recommended, great lager.

Serving type: on-tap

06-30-2012 19:53:08 | More by Jsenay
Photo of UCLABrewN84


4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Far Bar in Los Angeles, CA.

Pours an opaque black with a foamy dark khaki head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy rings of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of dark roasted malt, coffee, and some hop aromas. Taste is much the same with a mild roasty and hop bitterness with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink.

Serving type: on-tap

06-24-2012 07:37:25 | More by UCLABrewN84
Photo of tempest


4.38/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this a couple times on tap on a recent trip to SF. I'm always a fan of the style, seeking out new (at least to me) examples, and this is the best I've had. It has the agreeable drinkability of your standard dark lager or schwarzbier, but the depth of a great Baltic porter. There were fruity, cherry tones at times, and then dry toffee and cocoa with an interesting cola edge. I'm so impressed by how many, clean distinct (and delicious) dark malt flavors are crammed into this lager. Go find this beer. You need it.

Serving type: on-tap

04-22-2012 20:46:40 | More by tempest
Photo of WillCarrera


4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Toronado SF, poured into a pint glass.

A- Pours pitch black with a creamy brown head, leaves good lacing.

S- Big smoky malt, some chocolate and caramel, big malt bomb basically.

T- Huge malts again, chocolate and dry, smoky coffee, lightly charred grain and peat.

M- Medium-bodied, creamy and smooth feel.

O- An awesome beer, Moonlight makes some of the most flavorful lagers I've had in a long time, this is a really drinkable, tasty beer.

Serving type: on-tap

03-20-2012 22:15:50 | More by WillCarrera
Photo of SpdKilz


3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap at Toronado. I love the name of this, heh.

Appearance – Utter black color with no light getting through. Off brown head that sticks around for a while.

Smell – Heavy roast, coffee, chocolate, char, and caramel.

Taste – Bitter cocoa mixed with roast. This is a rather harsh beer – everything is on the “bitter” side as in the cocoa, coffee, and malts. Some sweetness tries to get through but fails to a more earthiness.

Mouthfeel – Medium bodied, finishes damn dry.

Overall – Just a bit too much. I love char and roast and other bitter flavors, but this was a bit over the top.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2012 01:23:14 | More by SpdKilz
Photo of scottfrie


4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Served black with a thick fluffy head that faded into a thick film that held great retention. A complex network of amazing lacing was left down the glass.
S: Light nose but I pick up some caramel and some roast. Malty all around, maybe a bit of coffee.
T: Follows the nose. Roasted malt, rich coffee, and porter-like flavors dominate. The finish is roasted and has notes of chocolate, and the aftertaste is quick and easy.
M: Medium-light body, tingly carbonation, super clean mouthfeel.
O: One of the world’s easiest drinking beers. Flavors are rich enough to be interesting but not overly complex or strong.

Serving type: on-tap

12-26-2011 17:40:29 | More by scottfrie
Photo of jkanavel


4.47/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had this in Santa Rosa a few months back.
I remember remarking to my buddy who ordered it that this was a great porter...then he chuckled leaned back and told it was a schwartz beer and that I couldn't get it anywhere so i'd better enjoy it.

That I did.
Creamy brown head, dark black body.
The nose was not super duper hoppy, which was misleading. Mostly malty toasty goodness, but very chocolaty and sweet as well.

Mouthfeel was so smooth with SOME carbonation, but not much. Similar in mouthfeel to Anchor Porter.

The same goes for flavor. A little dryer than Anchor Porter, but similar nonetheless. The dryness also makes it a great session beer.

Loved it.

Serving type: on-tap

12-06-2011 03:17:46 | More by jkanavel
Photo of cbutova


4/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at SF Toronado 10/24. Reviewed from notes.

A- Black with brown edges in a pint glass. Almost coffee like look. Off-white frothy pillow and ring on the beer. Fine coat of lace.

S- Grain bomb. You can smell the actual grain, as if you were mashing it at home as well as the roast cocoa notes and caramel.

T- Very nice roast hints in a lighter profile than one would expect such flavors. Roast malt, cereal grains and slight dark fruit. Lager yeast and buttery notes take a back seat to the roast grains.

MF- Light but creamy moderate body with solid carbonation. Slightly bitter on the palate.

Reminds me of Sam Adams Black Lager with an extreme roast, mashed grain flavor. Bonus points in the overall.

Serving type: on-tap

10-29-2011 05:17:01 | More by cbutova
Photo of emerge077


4.35/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On draft at Flavor, served in a 12 oz. wilibecher glass. Review from written notes.

Black body, not seeing much light come through, not even around the edges. None more black. Dripping halo of lacing crowning the rim of the glass and tumbling down like spanish moss hanging from low branches.

Mellow aroma of roast barley, wet coffee grounds, unsweetened dark chocolate.

Flavors of Belgian dark chocolate, Islay smoke, coffee, all nicely interwoven. A dry roasty finish that leaves a dose of lingering bitterness. Medium bodied and creamy with a fine blend of flavors. Easily sessionable, and one of the most intensely flavorful lagers in recent memory. Paired nicely with pesto foccacia and an appetizer of celery wrapped in parmesan and thin raw beef.

Serving type: on-tap

10-12-2011 17:42:18 | More by emerge077
Photo of Hojaminbag


4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Death and taxes has a very dark brown body with a mocha colored head. Lacing and retention are both solid also.

A whiff of smoke is followed by lots of chocolate and some roasted malt. A little bit of coffee.

This beer has a ton of flavor packed into it. The malt profile leans toward chocolate, and there is a lot of it, but the chocolate flavor is also supplemented by a solid amount of roasted malt and bits of coffee around the edges. The smoke is more noticeable in the flavor than it is in the aroma, without being overpowering. It reminds me a little bit of smoked meat, as opposed to smoked wood. I like it, interesting and a little bit different.

Medium in carbonation and body, solid feel.

Moonlight makes some very good beers, and this one is no exception. It has tons of flavor for the ABV, and if you get the chance to try it, I highly suggest it.

Serving type: on-tap

10-01-2011 01:05:45 | More by Hojaminbag
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.58/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Toronado, in San Francisco.

It looks awfully close to black, but I'm pretty sure it's technically still brown - a dark brown, mind you, something like 80% cocoa dark chocolate. Its head, too, reminds me of chocolate; it has the colour of a Lindt bar and the texture of cocoa butter, leaving a lacing that droops like fondue. (Where did this sweet tooth come from all of a sudden?)

This beer has been called a Euro dark lager, a schwarzbier, a porter... truth be told it's not really any of the above. While it seems to be some variation of a black lager, it is the richest, most characterful damn black lager ever made! One sniff and the Toronado turns into a chocolate shop. This sootiness and coffee-like character could show up an imperial stout.

It is indeed hard to attribute any style to it. It's certainly more robust than any schwarzbier I've ever come across, and even has a little bit of smoke character like a rauchbier. Yet it has the flavour of a stout, tasting simultaneously of Africa's best coffee and darkest chocolate. This is a schwarzbier in the same way that Bruce Banner is an ordinary guy.

Yet it drinks like a lager, with no trace of roast. I bet, however, it's one that all of Germany would agree to be too rich for them - think 90% cocoa and you're in the right ballpark. Truthfully this is far too strong for whatever style it's intended as - it almost resembles coffee more than beer - but when it tastes this rich yet drinks this casually, who cares? I love it!

Never has any brewer so successfully obliterated style guidelines; while it drinks like a schwarzbier, its flavour profile is on a whole other level. On my extended vacation in California I learned that you can be certain of more in life than just death and taxes - you can be sure that wherever there's Moonlight on tap, there's world-class beer to be had.

Serving type: on-tap

08-13-2011 23:22:21 | More by biegaman
Photo of avaldivia


4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at the Coddingtown Whole Foods Tap Room in Santa Rosa.

A: Very dark with a thick off white head. Leaves nice lacing all the way down.

S: Roasted smoky smell. Coffee and dark chocolate are on the forefront.

T: Same as smell. Smoky, roasted coffee flavor with a bit of chocolate. Leaves a bit of an aftertaste that I really enjoy. Very nice and complex.

M: Medium bodied with good carbonation.

O: Awesome. Very complex beer. Whenever I see this on tap, I order it. At 5% this is a beer you can and should have a few of.

Serving type: on-tap

07-28-2011 05:54:32 | More by avaldivia
Photo of ngeunit1


4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Served a very dark black color with a finger-plus of frothy chocolate head. The head fades down super slow leaving behind lots of lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of roasted/burnt scents including chocolate and coffee. There is also a bit of smoke and just a touch of sweetness.

T - Starts off with a mix of roasted and burnt coffee and chocolate. There is also a bit of sweetness mixed in as well. Through the middle, the burnt flavors get a bit stronger and some smoke flavor comes through. The finish is a mix of roasted and burnt chocolate and coffee flavors with some lingering smoke.

M - Medium-plus bodied with mild carbonation. The beer feels smooth and fairly dry due to the strong burnt flavors.

D - Very drinkable. The flavors here are extremely well balanced and very complex. It seems to get more and more complex with each sip.

Serving type: on-tap

07-25-2011 04:24:13 | More by ngeunit1
Photo of treyrab


4.28/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Went out to San Francisco to swim Alcatraz and made sure to try as many Moonlight beers as I could. Out of the four that I tried, this was probably my favourite. Tasted at Toronado San Francisco for the full effect.

A: Pours a dark as night black with a rich, creamy tan head. Not as dark as I thought it was when held to the light (must be the dark Toronado atmosphere that led me to believe it was black). It's a nice dark brown and clear with crimson hues. The head is nice (like a stout), that is rich and creamy. Decent lacing too.

S: The initial whiff I get is of nice smokey meats and dark bakers chocolate. Very chocolaty, with the addition of a distinct European Lager scent (similar to the scent I picked up in Reality Czeck). Very nice.

T: Nice and rich and smooth with a boat load of chocolate. The aspect that sets this beer apart though is the smoke element. Not overly smokey (this is not by any means a rauchbier), but it does have a slight element of smoke. Nice chocolate and some bitter roast too. But through all of that it is super clean.

Overall, this was a great beer. A very, very nice black lager.

Serving type: on-tap

07-21-2011 11:27:07 | More by treyrab
Photo of Phyl21ca

Quebec (Canada)

3.5/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a dark color lager with a large foamy head with good retention and some light lacing. Aroma of lightly roasted malt notes with some caramel and light black chocolate notes. Taste is also a mix between some light caramel malt with subtle notes of chocolate and light dry bitter finish. Body is about average with good carbonation. Well doe for the style with great drinkability and complexity ratio.

Serving type: bottle

06-28-2011 19:54:21 | More by Phyl21ca
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Death & Taxes Black Beer from Moonlight Brewing Company
93 out of 100 based on 226 ratings.